January 4: There's No Magic Date on the Calendar, but There's Still Hope for the New Year

I made pulled chicken for dinner tonight, which was really good, by the way. A child, amidst puking sounds and other complaints, stated he was not going to eat said chicken on his plate. I said, oh yes he was, for there were children at his school who didn't get to go home to a warm meal at night. The only time they eat is at school, so we need to be grateful for what we have instead of complaining. And he says, well, then you can give them this chicken. #smartdonkey

We were driving home in the afternoon on New Year's Eve. The day had already been busy and showed no promise of letting up anytime soon. All good things, but draining things when your belly is the size of a watermelon and you just want to sit down on the couch, for the love.

The kids were in the back yelling and laughing at one another. I'd warmed up my coffee for the ride home and turned on the radio, slightly louder then the chaos in the back, in an attempt to drown it out. Choose your noise. That's something I've learned is helpful for my sanity in this stage of life where pockets of sanity are sparse.

After months of orange barrels rendering my usual exit ramp impassable, it finally opened again and I made my way around the curve. The once barren land that had been torn up by the ongoing construction now had grass seedlings sprouting up in a blanket of bright, vibrant green.

The ground was covered with thriving new life. On December 31st. In Cleveland.

Any other year, I'd have thought it was crazy to suggest it's possible to plant and grow grass at the end of December. Isn't that strictly a summer thing? As someone with a black thumb, I don't really know, but green grass on New Years Eve?

That's impossible.

About twelve hours later, the internet was alive with new growth of it's own: posts with resolutions for 2016.

New Year, New You.

2016 is going to be amazing.

Reaching your fitness goals, your health goals, your weight loss goals.

I did have this insane urge to clean up the house and get organized after we put the Christmas decorations away, which immediately translated into the desire to go out and buy baskets and cute storage bins with which to organize all my crap. Because, somehow a new basket would make it finally happen, right? My loving husband pointed out that wasn't the solution to my problem, exciting as it may sound.

Other then the organizing bug, which we could just chalk up to nesting at this point, all the resolution chatter kind of rubbed me the wrong way this year. I know that we need to have goals and life direction or we will just crash and burn on autopilot. I get the momentum behind a fresh start, but there's no magic date on a calendar that will transform your life. It may for a time, just like running out and buying colorful, new baskets may give you the illusion of getting organized, but after the moment has passed and the resolutions fade (which research shows is about mid-February, if you make it that long...), you'll be stuck looking in the mirror at the same old you.

And feeling incredibly guilty for it.

As if this "old you" is a failure.

And I think we just go about the whole thing all wrong. Because while the world, and the whole lot of us sometimes, look at the outward appearances, the Lord looks at the heart. And it's only the heart, in true alignment with Him by His grace, that produces any sort of lasting life change. All the outward change we crave needs to be an overflow of inward change, or it doesn't stand a chance. Motivation runs out, momentum can only sustain so far, our feet fail, desires wane...

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. {Isaiah 40:27-31}

So, yeah, all those seemingly impossible resolutions looming overhead this coming year? The momentum won't get you there, the excitement won't last. But still, even green grass grows on barren land as we flip the page to this calendar year. Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe all these outward goals need to start with a heart change. Maybe we need to see ourselves as He sees us first.

I think for me this year, resolutions, if you want to call them that, will look a little different. I'm not going to buy into the lie that a "new me" is a "better me", or that the "old me" is a failure, because I'm loved as much in this moment as I will ever be, period. I don't need to do anything or be anything or change anything to earn anything I don't already have. He's enough, therefore I'm enough.

But I do want to see Him more clearly, to love more deeply, and to give more sacrificially this year. I don't need a devotional checklist or a read-through-the-bible-in-a-year plan in order to achieve that: I simply need to spend time with Him and press into His grace. My life, and my world, will be changed accordingly.

Maybe you need something more structured, and that's fine. As for me, I used to make lists, and then I realized they made me feel bad because I'd look at them and see all the things I haven't accomplished and areas where I failed, so I gave them up for Lent a long time ago and haven't looked back.

A relationship isn't about checklists, do's and don'ts, or even reading plans. For some reason in Christianity, we try to "manage" our relationship with the Lord, turning it into a set of measurable goals. We track our "progress" each day, like it's some sort of class we're taking, gaining credit for our performance. It's stifling. Can you imagine if that's what marriage was like? Ugh. No sir.

Building a real relationship is about getting to know someone's heart. It's a delicate and mysterious process, and if you do it right, it should take a lifetime. So my resolution for the year is to seek Him by His grace, and He promises to fulfill the desires of my heart as I allow it to be molded and shaped by Him.