I had never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions until I decided to make them and carry them out at a pace and time that worked for me, which was different from the cultural norm of January 1. Starting over, starting out energized for a new task or a new day, even, is something we are promised in scripture: Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Studies show that many American s (up to 50%) make a New Year’s Resolution yet very few resolutions are kept, and they can actually do more harm than good. We tend to want to leave our old selves behind, begin anew and then blame and shame ourselves for not being able to set out what we had hoped to accomplish; all of this usually happening by about the third week in January. So, what is a healthier, wiser way to make a New Year’s Resolution?
Many articles like this one will give tips on making a goal that is “doable”, having an accountability partner and celebrating positive momentum along the way, and I would agree with all of those. However, if we attend to the idea of beginning the New Year with the same intentionality we use when we walk a prayer labyrinth, for example, we can be more open to what God would like for us to set aside as priority in our relationships with our faith, family, friends and our work environments in 2018. The steps of the prayer labyrinth are walked out at a slow pace, with openness to how God might speak to us. The basic steps are to survey the outside of the labyrinth and REFLECT on this time with God. Likewise, reflect on 2017: What was good? What was hard? Where did you grow close or distant to God, to others? Take time to reflect and review God moments, moments where you felt the most connected and compassionate to yourself, to others.
The next step is to begin the walk by praying to RELEASE whatever it is that is a block between you and God. What are you hiding or avoiding? What needs to be changed, forgiven, cleared, confronted, or healed in your life? Offer these situations to God as you move forward on the path. As you move toward the center, be open to RECEIVING what God has for you. If you have a favorite scripture, meditate on it in the center. How might you love God with all your heart mind, soul and strength (Duet. 6:5) this upcoming year? How might you treat your body as a holy temple (1 Corin. 6:19) or your home as a sacred space where strangers who could be angels unaware (Heb. 13:2) are entertained? How might you seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) in 2018? As you give thanks for this time, begin to walk out of the center with a RESPONSE to God. Commit to what has been placed on your heart, share it with a friend, ask God to show you how and where to begin, and to provide friends along the journey who can help you stay future focused. (Jeremiah 29:11).
Sometimes it helps to respond (act) as if we are well on our way to meeting our goal at the beginning. Acting better than we feel, can help us feel better than we think. If we think and act more positively with a can-do, will-do, purposed confidence, we can push through negative thinking that tends to keep us stuck in the past. REFLECT again on your journey, giving thanks in all circumstances (Philip. 4:6) trusting that God’s mercies are new every January 1, and every morning after that. Contact Michelle McDevitt-Askew, LMFT, LPC a therapist with our Counseling Center if you would like more information about her services: 980-263-9313 or firstname.lastname@example.org