Originally published Jan. 4, 2017.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution?
Studies demonstrate that 45 percent of people make resolutions having to do with self-improvement:
• 38 percent want to lose weight or get healthier;
• 34 percent want to spend less, save more, and get out of debt; and
• 30 percent want to improve their personal relationships.
All of these are worthy of our intention and investment. The only problem is follow-through, right? In 1738, the literary giant Samuel Johnson wrote in his diary, “Oh Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.”
Apparently his mind was willing but his flesh was weak, because he wrote some variation of this resolution (or in his case, a prayer request) for 38 years. Finally, in 1775, 38 years after his first resolution, he wrote, “When I look back upon resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after year, been made and broken, why do I yet try and resolve again? I try because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal.”
That’s life, isn’t it? Just like Sam, we begin each year thinking, “This is the year!”
We resolve to turn over a new leaf and we are serious. We promise ourselves we’re going to quit bad habits and start good ones. We’re going to get healthier, lose weight, be more organized, treat ourselves and others better and so on. We promise to be a better parent, spouse or sibling, son or daughter, employee or boss, friend or neighbor. But before winter gives way to spring we realize we are not keeping up our end of the bargain. We’ve failed. Again.
The good news – and there is good news – is that God loves us without fail, even when we fall short.
God knows our weaknesses and promises to give us strength. We need not try to keep these resolutions on our own, relying on our own meager resources. The good news is that God’s love never fails, God never gives up on you, God never gives up on me. The good news is that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
There is more good news: we need not travel life’s journey alone, for not only does God in Christ promise to never leave us or forsake us, but God has created a supportive community called the church to be there for us. The church is not a building of bricks and mortar, but a group of people who, like you and me, are loved by God even when, and perhaps most especially when, we try and fail to live up to our own expectations. God provides companionship and empowerment through community, so we need not struggle on our own.
Make your New Year’s resolution to reach out, explore, visit, or check out a local church where you can find others who can offer encouragement and friendship that can strengthen your God-connection.
This is good news.
May God bless us all as we begin a new year.
Lynell Caudillo writes from the Calvary Presbyterian Church in Enumclaw.