“New Year’s resolutions never work,” you always hear people say. Many times the resolutions–to eat less, work out more, be a better friend, etc. don’t work out because we don’t work on them tirelessly.
My science teacher in high school had an interesting saying that I still “carry” with me. He said: “Practice makes permanent.” Why “permanent” instead of the classic “perfect”? He explained that you can practice something wrong for so long that it becomes permanent, yet it is in no way perfect. The application was: find out what you want to change in your behavior, character, lifestyle, etc. and work at it persistently, doing it the right way, until it becomes permanent in your life.
Tomorrow a year ago I wrote this in my reading journal: “New Years Eve was yesterday and today is a whole new year. Yet, nothing has changed, yesterday’s burdens are today’s as well. One day at a time, one day at a time.”
You see, I was already anxious about changing. I had set myself a lofty goal and I wished to see it through, and I had taken steps to make sure I keep my resolution back in 2009 and beyond.
I had been asked to be the speaker at a college camp over Christmas, and the 31st, that last night, had been the last night of camp. All the messages I had given so far culminated in last night, and the purpose was that last night.
I encouraged the campers and myself to make a resolution for the coming year. But not just a commitment that would last a week and then fall apart. I meant to encourage them to make resolutions that would last a lifetime. Since we have been looking at John Piper’s idea of Don’t Waste Your Life, the resolution was obvious–Don’t waste your life!
But it was a lifetime commitment, something that would take years to develop and work on. And I intended on keeping it. I had planned to keep it, yet when January 1 came around, nothing changed. I wrote in my journal, kind of sheepishly: “I have committed this year and from now on to not waste my life.”
Yet “Rome was not built in a day”!
I didn’t stop that day, but I kept working on it. But instead of getting better, it got worse. Over the next few weeks I was sick-as-a-dog with an awful sinus infection. “Remember,” I kept telling myself, “Practice makes permanent.”
And so now, a year later, I am ready to assess the commitment/resolution I made last year.
I encourage you to do the same. What have you challenged yourself in lately, last year, to change in? Did you make a resolution? Did you follow through?
On February 17 I wrote this: “The truth is that you don’t know where you are going until you have examined where you have been; or else you will keep doing what you always did and you will keep failing like you always have.”
At the end of every year Jonathan Edwards would look at his past year and sketch out how he had changed. He also had made a resolution–he looked into his life and asked himself what things needed to change. If he had been struggling with his commitment to hospitality, he would make a resolution about it for that next year. If he had felt his relationship with God becoming routine, he would resolute to live for God. Yet while he took that year to work intently on that resolution, he also took his accumulated resolutions of all his past years as lifelong resolutions.
Last year I committed to change in my purpose for life. I purposed/resolved to not waste my life, instead to invest my life into only the eternal things. As I assessed my progress, I am thankful to God for the startling changes in my life. But when January 1 comes tomorrow, that resolution will not be forgotten, instead it will be added the one I make for this next year.
For 2010 I resolve to enjoy life to the fullest to the glory of God. I am convinced, mostly by Solomon, that God gave us life to be enjoyed, every part of it, the difficult and easy, the harsh and the beautiful, the laughter and the sorrow. All are gifts from God that are meant to bring us closer to him, like children in a mother’s arms.
So when you see me around this year, ask me: “Are you enjoying life today Christopher?”
What will you resolve this year? Yet more importantly, will you follow through?