Much like spring is known as a season for coming out of hibernation, celebrating new growth, and cleaning, January comes with its fair share of expected activities. After a stretch of festive indulgence, people join gyms and begin healthy eating regimens. People look back on the past twelve months and look forward to what the next ones have to offer. A new year is a chance to review, reflect, and rethink.
Making resolutions is often the culmination of those musings. I am an avid list maker and thrive off of having goals to accomplish. For me, January never ends without a thorough list of resolutions being created.
However, sometimes goals and plans for the upcoming year become an agent for self-condemnation. Instead of my resolutions being a loose guide for the year ahead, those intentions become requirements the minute I write them down. I judge my year, and my self-worth, by my ability to meet the goals prescribed in my categorized and alphabetized resolution list.
Resolutions innately feed my desire for rules and structure. I like having clear parameters that, when met, signal my success. I was always happy when teachers provided a rubric for assignments. Expectations were clearly outlined and I knew the exact criteria on which I would be graded.
When most people use new year’s resolutions as motivation and direction for accomplishment, my resolutions become the rubric from which I score life. I have a deep-seated desire to do everything right, so I manipulate generally innocuous traditions — like creating New Year’s resolutions — into ways I can prove I’m doing life perfectly.
In my quest for perfection, I completely disregard two deeply freeing truths: 1. I won’t and can’t be perfect, and 2. God doesn’t ask or expect me to be perfect. God does provide a rubric, but it’s a rubric full of grace, forgiveness, love, and joy. There is peace and comfort to be found in His criteria for a righteous life — no striving or manipulation needed to earn a good grade in God’s rubric.
This year, I’m going to build my resolution list around God’s abundant grace and mercy. I will swap perfect for being perfected in Christ. I will trade judgement for joy. I will exchange striving for service.
Join me in the freedom that comes when we embrace God’s rubric for life.
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
(2 Peter 1:2)