Here we are, just a few days into a new year and like every new year, I was wondering about the resolutions I might need to make (I admit, it is more appealing to wonder about the ones you need to make) and whether I am willing to let anyone else know what mine might be – since if you know what they are, you might pay enough attention to catch me not keeping them. What seems to be the biggest obstacle for me is the temptation to think that where I am is good enough, so why go to so much trouble to improve just a little bit!
Then, while I was mixing some recordings to burn a CD for friends, I was struck by the way I could hear in the recordings all the things I didn’t get perfectly played or sung and how I could choose whether to “fix” all those little things or leave them in. I have friends who have made their livings in the music industry and when we share our newest songs back and forth I find there are two ways we do it: one mindset edits, re-records, polishes every note until there is a perfect recording with no off notes, missed timings, unclear words or unbalanced instruments. Only when it is all perfect will it be shared with anyone else.
The other mindset (yeah, mine) wants to present it as if I were playing it right then live, no edits or do-overs, just done as well I can do it in the moment. I try to get it all right, I want there to be no mistakes, but I want it to be something I could walk into the room and do. So I end up with “good enough.” I have a day job and they play music. But the thing is, even though they are better musicians than I, they have to fix and edit things, too. No one is perfect all the time. No matter how much you rehearse, no matter how experienced a performer you are, you make mistakes. When you are talking about digital recordings, you can fix them. When you’re talking about life, you can’t. Life is not a recording, it’s a live performance. You don’t get to know ahead of time what will go wrong and you don’t get do-overs.
So what’s this got to do with New Year’s resolutions? It’s about living with the goal of getting it right, of pursuing perfection even though we don’t achieve it. It’s about making this live performance the very best you can give and going on. It’s about aiming for perfection and understanding that you can only give it your best effort and that is all you can accept responsibility for.
The apostle Paul commented about his own life: not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-16 ESV).
Did you catch the good news? In spite of imperfection, Christ has taken hold of you and now you can only go forward, so press on! Don’t let yourself be trapped in the past, whether by failure or success. Life goes forward and so must you. This is a new year and if the past was a mess, go forward, pursue the good that lies ahead, follow the “upward call of God!” If that means resolutions, make them, go for it and give it your best shot!
Bruce Thweatt pastors Enumclaw Community Church and can be reached at eccfamily.org.