New Year's Resolutions

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There are lovers and haters of New Years Eve. By the time I hit mid-teens I was definitely a hater.

Gone were the days when it was novel to stay up until midnight. And it became obvious when returning to school in January that the cooler kids hadn’t been playing ‘Mouse Trap’ or crying at ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ to see the New Year in. (If you are wondering, of course I never did that either).

"It was easy to get fed up about all the New Year's Resolutions that hadn't lasted past the 15th of January."

Even after getting over my need to fit in with what everyone else seemed to be doing I still didn’t look forward to New Year’s Eve with much joy. It had become a time where I assessed the previous year, and instead of focusing on whatever good might have happened, I would look at what I could have done better. It was easy to get fed up about all the New Year’s Resolutions that I’d made the previous year that hadn’t lasted past the 15th of January, and vow to do better the next year. Although I gloomily suspected that I wouldn’t match up to my extensive lists of already-too-high self expectations.

That changed a few winters ago when my sister and I went to a service in London held by Jesus House, a predominantly Nigerian church. We arrived to a packed out auditorium with a huge gospel choir already in full swing. After getting over my English white-girl awkwardness, I was stepping along with everyone else, enjoying the celebration and God’s presence.

"I didn't need such a fatalistic look on the start of each year."

Then a speaker got up and began to prophesy words of hope and encouragement for the next year. I was surprised to hear that the church had a difficult year leading up to that point, but that didn’t ruin the celebration. Instead they thanked God for his goodness, embracing all that he wanted to do among them, choosing to focus on him no matter what the situation.

That New Year’s Eve service really affected me. Something switched in my brain, and I realised that I didn’t need such a fatalistic look on the start of each year, mourning the negatives that had happened and expecting to disappoint myself in the coming months. In fact, now I am choosing to do the opposite. I want to get into the habit of thanking Jesus for the previous year, and looking to him for his perspective. I’m going to make a decision on my view of 2011 with God, asking what he was doing and where he was in it all.

"I'd rather lower my self-expectations and join in with the fun things God wants to do."

I haven’t given up on making New Year’s Resolutions though. I actually really like making lists and goals, but I’m now choosing to try and make my decisions about what to do in the coming year with the Holy Spirit. I’d rather lower my self- expectations and join in with the fun things that God wants to do instead. The aim is to have less of an attitude of striving to do better, but instead moving forward knowing the hope to which I am called.

We also don’t need to only change the way we do things once a year on December 31st. The Bible emphasises the importance of repentance, which means changing the way you think or act, turning around. That’s not restricted to one special time of year - God has so much grace for us all year round. Phillipians 2 talks about us working out our salvation. That shows me that I don’t have to be perfect all at once. God is willing to work in us gradually; renewing our minds is a process.

I’ve decided that I’m going to be a lover of New Year’s Eve from now on, and I’m feeling positive about my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve taken the pressure off my self and I’m determined to have fun thanking God for the past year and looking forward to the good things to come in 2012.

What’s your perspective on New Year’s Resolutions? Have you made any this year?