Happy New Year!
It’s hard to believe that we’ve left 2015, and are now looking at 2016 with awe and wonder of what will happen next. A new year means new adventures, new decisions, and undoubtedly…new challenges. We’ve left the stress of the holiday season and begin to lock ourselves into the mindset of being prepared for sub-arctic temperatures, gray skies, and snow delays. While the peace of the New Year is refreshing, it is also incredibly revealing. When you take away the busyness, the stress, the family, the travel, the overabundance of food…all associated with the holiday’s, you are left with more time to focus on those trouble spots in your own life.
These trouble spots, typically, will lead us to the creation of our favorite word this time of year; resolutions. A resolution, as defined by a quick Google search, is listed as: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”
Millions of people are making these decisions right now. Each year we strive to be refreshed and renewed…we love second chances. Or third…or fourth…or, you get the idea. Even with these times of renewal each year, we find ourselves losing steam at some point…focusing on other things, and those changes we wanted to make as we headed into the New Year become less important, until eventually, we’ve shaken off those intentions as just another failed attempt at becoming the person we want to be.
As much as I would want to say that I never had this issue, I did…and still do. I struggle with being disciplined with physical exercise…and when something pops up that is a possible excuse for not doing it, I quickly grab onto the excuse and feel consoled in knowing that it’s not my fault I can’t exercise today. I, and maybe even you, have become very good at forgiving my own failures when it comes to this area of my life.
So, knowing most resolutions are rarely kept, are they worth doing? Indeed they are… I would rather try and fail, then to have never tried at all. I have been a non-smoker for 3 plus years now, and I must have tried 14,000 times before it finally worked. Each time I tried, though, I learned something. The culmination of all my failures eventually equaled my success. What in the world did I finally learn that made it so easy to stop smoking after all these years and attempts? Success in making changes, and making them permanently, has to come from a place of peace inside of your soul. That’s a little heady, I know, but it’s the way I can write what I felt and have it sort-of make sense. If you are a wreck inside, then you’ll never be able to make changes stick, because the inner chaos (whatever that might be, or whatever might be causing it) will always derail you from your goal of making lasting changes in your life.
For me, there were two key things that have filled my soul since I made the decision to quit smoking: Jesus… and my wife. Sounds easy really, but what I have learned through this process is that when my emotional core felt complete again, the confidence to make any decision became instantly easier. Today, regardless of what situation is in front of me, I always go back to those two fundamental pieces to the completion of my core. With the joy, peace, and grace of Jesus, and the ongoing continual and ever strengthening support and love from my wife, I no longer feel weakness in times of struggle. Notice, I did not say, I no longer feel struggle, but when there is a struggle against sin, or a bad decision, or losing my sense of self, I can cling to those things in my life that complete my core.
So, a couple of thoughts as we wind down our first post of the New Year:
- Any desires you have to make lasting changes in your life must start with the process of completing your inner self, first. You need peace, or else you’ll be a ship without a sail in an unending rough ocean until you find it.
- If you are trying to make changes that are only noticeable on the outside, you will fail. Again, it has to start on the inside. You’ll never hear someone who is on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at the gym…but I know many find themselves on the doorstep of death, wondering, what will be on the other side. Think not knowing the answer to that question can cause turmoil in your life? Absolutely it can…but we have the answer, through Jesus.
- If you commit to doing something, and you fail, try again. If it is worth doing once, it is worth doing until you get it right. If you have peace inside, it’ll make the chase of that goal immeasurably easier.
- If you want to make changes, don’t wait. There is no perfect time to do it. Change is never easy. So, as we say in my office at work: Begin…the rest is easy.
- Forget baby steps. Commit to the changes, and pursue them with reckless abandon.
I remember seeing shirts and bumper stickers as I grew up that said this:
If you find yourself struggling for that inner peace I speak of, dig into God’s word. Jesus can fill your dark spaces with light…and as a result your inner self will shine brighter than it ever has.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
If you are too much No Jesus, and feel you need to do more Know Jesus, this scripture gives you all the confidence you need to make yourself complete. The peace a relationship with Jesus Christ will bring you is impossible for me to describe in words (which says a lot for someone who writes), but I can tell you this, once you feel it…you’ll never want to live another day without it. We were created to have a relationship with Jesus, and when you do, you’ll feel the meshing of two gears, perfectly crafted to fit together without even a space of separation.
If you were to have just one resolution this year, why not make it a firm decision to knowing Jesus at a more intimate level than you ever have. In life, you need a spotter all the time, not just on a bench press…
My prayer for all of us is that we are brave enough in 2016 to commit to whatever Jesus is calling us to do, to make the changes in our lives we need to make, and that we pursue the peace of Jesus at an even higher level than we have before.
In His precious name,
Eric J. Wasson