I have to be honest, New Year’s resolutions flummox me. There have been years that I’ve joined the 99% of the world’s population in declaring that I will make kick-butt changes with my diet and exercise routines, and, like 75% of that 99%, I’ve completely given up by Valentine’s Day (the call of the chocolate is just too strong to ignore!), but for the most part, I’ve never really bought into the whole “a new year, a new me!” mind set. It’s certainly not because there aren’t aspects of my life and myself that I would love to change; it’s because as I look back on my life, the most profound and permanent changes have never been brought about my sheer effort or willpower.
In fact, none of the most momentous times or incomparable blessings in my life have come from my own effort or initiative at all.
I look back on my life, where I’ve come from and where I’ve been, and I cannot take credit for the astonishing places God has brought me, or for the deliverance from the unspeakably horrible pits that I’ve called home. Undoubtedly, I would still be sitting down there, in one wretched pit or another, if He had not reached down to lift me out. The only thing I did was reach up to grasp His hand.
Because of this realization, I’ve come to believe that my resolutions, and yes, I’ve made some this year, are going to be centered around aspects of my life that I can control.
Let’s talk about control.
I am currently in a life situation that I can’t control one iota. I didn’t cause it, and I can’t change it, even though I would dearly love to. This isn’t a new situation – in fact, it’s been going on for years – but it is has come in stages. Over this past year, this situation escalated substantially, and because this is one of those life instances that is comparable to being splashed with mud because of someone else’s careless decision to drive through a puddle, it is easily considered to be completely and unequivocally unfair to the dripping bystanders.
In this past year, the person causing this situation has become increasingly difficult to deal with, which has inflicted a significant amount of personal pain.
Have you ever noticed that it is in the school of pain that we find out just how mature we truly are? I’m not going to pretend that I have not fought the urge to lash out. In fact, since I want to be completely honest with you, I will confess that I’ve battled my own anger against this person like never before. God has had an ear-full, and when my tears are spent, He reaches down, as only He can do, and shows me how He’s hurt, too. He reminds me of all the times I’ve prayed for Him to bring this person to Himself, to make him who God intended and to bring him to his knees, and He encourages me to not give up in this battle.
He reminds me that, yes, I feel the pain of rejection and loss, but He is bigger than all of it. He asks me again and again to trust Him. He asks me to allow Him to use the pain to bring me closer to His heart and to show me His faithfulness. He shows me that He is the fourth Man in the fire, that He is with me as I walk through the river, and that He will not let it sweep over me.
This allowing, this yielding, this reaching back up to Him. These are what I can control. So, these are my resolutions. They aren’t new. They aren’t a fad. They aren’t based upon my strength or ability. They are based upon the ever-true, ever-dependable, never-failing promises and character of God.
They are how I plan to grow through this new year.