Are you a New Year's goal setter? Resolution maker? Word-picker? (As in: pick a word to define your upcoming year, like "Grace" or "Dependence")
I'm not. At all. I actually have an argument against the yearly onslaught of goals and resolutions and words for several reasons. So at the risk of stepping on toes, here goes:
Wrong Perspective - I believe, as human beings, we like to compartmentalize our lives. Especially as Americans, frankly. We like to categorize, plan, color-code, and timeline things. There is a place for this, obviously. I own two planners for work and have an online project management tool for shared projects in our corporation. But there's a difference between organizing what a person must get done versus trying to outline what a person wants to become. Whether it's to lose fifty pounds, to read 75 books in one year, or to reconnect with an estranged loved one, these "goals" when set at New Year's, tend to become weights around our necks. Like nooses. It's why the whole New Year's Resolution idea gets mocked. We rarely meet them. Which means, in short, we're setting huge expectations with an almost inevitable take-rate of failure. The ROI is pretty sad (Return On Investment).
My Dad taught me a valuable lesson as a teenager. One that has formed me for years and brought so much peace and freedom to this becoming as a person. His philosophy was: know Jesus. Yep. That was the big, profound concept that he impressed on me as a child.
Knowing Jesus sounds simplistic and rather broad. It doesn't define a specific goal, or a resolution, or a word, as it relates to a particular life change. But, really, let's face it, when did you ever set a goal/resolution/word and it mapped itself out to the navigation you'd set for it?
My sole purpose in life is a gift from God. He, as my Creator, has given me the purpose of living to honor and to glorify Him with my life, my actions, my beliefs. Life is going to throw curveballs, insert wedges, and tip upside down continuously. But if, like Paul the Apostle stated, I "fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith", I will already be prepared for the New Year. I don't need anything else. I don't need a specific word (outside of "Jesus"), I don't need a specific goal (lose weight - because if I'm honed in on Jesus he'll probably plant that spark of Holy Spirit conscience when I reach for the apple fritter in a moment of sinful gluttony), and I don't need a word (because why limit God to one lesson or try to squeeze life lessons to fit one word?).
So this year, like last year, and the year before, I'm going to seek Jesus. I have a lot of "goals" to accomplish in regards to daily life. I have things I'd like to do, sure. I'd love to be fifty pounds lighter, to be honest. But I'm ten pounds down already and it was only after I followed my own advice to know Jesus, that I really started hearing His staying voice when I reach for those unhealthy products.
I encourage you to simplify this year. Know Jesus. Put away your color-coded New Year's resolution planner with the map of how it will be achieved (God may have other plans, you know, so why defeat yourself with your own plan?). Set aside your goals from your focus and put Jesus in the center. Throw away the one-word prison and let Jesus bring in a gazillion beautiful words.
Looking back on 2016, I didn't start the year with a word, but I love to summarize what the Lord did through my year with the WORDS He supplied: Inspiration, Dream-granting, Healing, Humbling, & Devotion.
I love that list. Because in a New Year, it's really all about what HE can do, not what we want to do.
So fly free, know Jesus, and watch it unfold . . .