New Year, Old you? 5 Resolutions to Ditch!
There's something almost magical about the start of a new year, right? The clock strikes midnight, we hug and kiss, and it feels like we've been given a clean slate, a fresh start, and new dreams ready to be fulfilled. You might take a look at the past year and count your blessings (and sorrows). You may be anticipating a promotion, traveling, having a child, getting married, letting go, or the joys that'll come your way. For some, creating resolutions brings focus and provides a road map to follow. But if you're like me, you already ditched making a list long ago because of too many resolutions that were forgotten or never accomplished.
How can we foster growth in a way that seeks the plans God has for us, especially if resolutions seem a bit outdated, overwhelming, or end up making us feel like a failure in a few months?
Here is a list of 5 common resolutions (that often get broken) to keep off your list, along with alternative faith practices that are more in line with the word of God.
1. Lose weight
The ongoing joke about gyms being empty come February 1 should be enough of a reminder to keep this one off the list, but let me offer these words. Losing weight is more than just changing your diet and getting a membership at the gym. Losing weight is tough as nails, and bringing your faith into the process is what will bring about the transformation you're wanting. Deal with the root of what's going on rather than simply cutting carbs or increasing your cardio. The Bible tells us that our bodies are a temple, and we should certainly do our best to keep them in good health, but not for the goal of a certain dress size or number on the scale. Rather we should seek not only physical health, but also emotional, spiritual and mental wholeness.
Here's what we can do instead: Lose the weight of trying to have a perfect body and be more concerned with your heart and the quality of your character. God (thankfully) isn't going to measure our waistlines when we stand before Him at the end of our lives. He is going to look at the way we lived for Him. Focus instead on bearing spiritual fruit and making space for God to refine you and chisel away at hardness, selfishness, and sin. Let Him have your whole heart for renewal, freedom, and to further His kingdom.
2. Grow your savings account
Of course, we all like the comfort of the safety net that a savings account provides, and it is certainly wise and biblical to not recklessly spend our dollars. But life is too unpredictable to keep up with this resolution. You could experience a job loss, have unexpected car or home repairs, or end up with medical bills after a sudden health issue.
Here's what we can do instead: Grow our financial peace. Saving money is just one piece of being a good steward of money. If you're wanting to save, don't start there and don't just end there. Tithing, paying down debt, and spending wisely are all important areas that will help you better manage your finances. Honestly, I'd start with tithing rather than saving.
If you want to turn your situation around this year, work through Financial Peace University to help you and your house gain a better perspective and handle on money through a Christian lens. This was a wonderful program my husband and I went through that helped us talk about money productively, prioritize our spending, and gave us guidance to feel more hopeful about our financial situation. Many churches offer this course throughout the year.
3. Make more travel plans
I didn't want to put this one on this list because traveling is something I personally love, and I travel a lot throughout the year. But it can be overwhelming to look at a whole year ahead and make firm commitments to traveling to certain destinations. Who needs that kind of extra stress, or let down? My husband and I discuss 1 or 2 places we hope to visit, but we wait until we have the funds, we wait until we have the time off, and we wait until we feel peace from God about booking the trip. None of which is easy to do when our (deceitful) hearts keep nudging us to take the plunge. Some plans come together, and others just don't for whatever reason.
Here's what we can do instead: Make less plans and let your life unfold according to God's good plans. Ten years ago, I wouldn't be caught dead promoting such a thought because anyone who knows me can attest that I like things well planned, organized and in order. But God has been so good and compassionately taught me to let go of the reigns and give Him control (I'm still a work in progress on this one, folks). There are very few moments that God gives us the whole picture, right? He takes us by the hands and guides us one faithful step at a time, so that we are never alone. Follow Him. Seek His direction for your life. Pray about those major decisions and plans, offering them up to Him, and waiting for His green light of peace.
4. Live life to the fullest
Aside from being incredibly vague, this has some unrealistic expectations lurking underneath. What does it even mean to live life to the fullest? The truth is, we don't live for self pleasure, we live for God. This one is just setting us up for looking back over the year and concluding that we failed.
Here's what we can do instead: Live life for God. Spend more time with Him in prayer, silence, praise, and worship. Spend more time at church, volunteering, and pouring love into those around you. Life to the fullest is servant-hood. The greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. That is what a life for Christ is all about. As you live for Him, God will take you on countless journeys and adventures that will make your life complete and your heart content to the fullest.
5. Spend more time with family and friends
This seems harmless, right? It usually is, and I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't spend time with your loved ones, but before you fill up your calendar with play dates, coffee dates, and dinner parties, answer this: how often are you spending time with God? He should be our priority before anyone else. If you want to increase relationship time with anyone in the coming year, start with Jesus.
Here's what we can do instead: Spend more time with God. The most important relationship you have is with your Lord and Savior. We take nothing from this earth except that incredibly precious and powerful relationship. And building it happens best when you set aside time for Him. Building a deeper relationship with God can happen through prayer, conversation, praise, worship and reading more of His word.
Here are a few ways to spend more time with God:
Get a cup of coffee and chat + Create a prayer room/closet + Silence + Lectio Divina + Spend time in nature + Listen to Christian music + Write letters to God + Put Scripture verses around your home + Join a small group or Bible study + Use your gifts and talents to serve others + Talk to God in traffic, during your shower, or while you cook + Start your day with a devotional or verse to meditate on throughout the day + End your day by expressing things you are grateful for + Pray together as a couple, family, or with your friends + Google ideas on how to spend more time with God
Whatever resolutions, goals, or hopes you set for the new year, may you figure out how to keep Christ at the heart of all you seek to accomplish.
Author: Pamela Palmer