I couldn’t get in to my Gym class yesterday. It was full. And I was there early. Then I remembered–the New Year’s Resolution Bulge (in business, not in waistlines even though that is a factor!).
Things will be back to normal in a few weeks.
Every January gyms across our nation do a booming business thanks to the Number One New Year’s Resolution–Lose Weight/Get Fit. I assume Weight Watchers, Dr. Bernstein, Jenny Craig and other diet-centric programs see a lot more traffic this time of year too.
When asked to raise our hands (in a Baptist Church no less, what’s this world coming to?!) if we made a New Year’s resolution last Sunday, January 1, only 25 percent of the group responded. The pastor assumed the number was slightly higher and we, the people, were not forthcoming.
I don’t make resolutions any more. Do you?
I did make them while in the naive bloom of youth but eventually I became jaded by the shocking reality that less than five percent of New Year’s resolutions are ever kept! And I quit.
Dan Sweaza, lead pastor of Connect Church, told this hand-withholding group (of which I was one) that even though very few of us made resolutions, or were willing to admit we did, all of us were probably interested in self improvement. All of us believe that we could be better, do better, get better.
Yup. Preach it! He had me.
But what about my dismal track record? The promises to get fit, be a better wife, spend more time with my kids, conquer my fears, become a responsible pet owner (Hey! The pet store TOLD me to put the aggressive gerbil in the freezer. It was either that or feed it to a snake!). I had so many failures and failings!
Then Dan said something that gave me so much comfort and encouragement: life change is a process not a project. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, (Romans 8:29 New Living Translation). God’s purpose for our lives is to make is more like Jesus. That has to be an ongoing process.
Projects have a finish line, an end point.
- Remodel the kitchen–after a few weeks of chaos and dust, it’s over and voila, new kitchen. That’s a project.
- Paint the trim–risk your life on that extension ladder for a day or two and BAM, it’s done. Project completed.
- Finish the basement–install some crooked walls, pull some wires, cover the whole mess with ill-fitting drywall and right when divorce court is the next logical step, call in some experts to make it all look like a couple of deranged idiots were not involved and bingo, it’s done. And we’re still married.
Projects have deadlines. You’ve gotta get the kitchen reno done before your grandkids, twin boys known as BamBam and Whackamole, come for Christmas. The pressure is on as December gets consumed by the Christmas craziness and the project stalls.
But life is simply a series of projects, you might argue. Yes and no. We do accomplish things but eventually those projects get old and worn and have to be redone or we move and start all over again. So, in a sense, even projects become part of the process of self improvement, or space improvement.
When you view life change as a process instead of a project, the deadline no longer looms. And you realize that you are never really done.
Am I fit? Courageous? A better wife? An involved parent? A good pet owner?
- My thighs don’t rub but, in fact, they’ve never met because I am bowlegged so…?
- I can speak onstage without puking but I still get nightmares about home invasions so….?
- Ask my husband…when I am out of town or on my deathbed.
- They grew up and left and gave me grandkids and it’s way easier and more fun with them.
- I concede defeat and am pet-less (thank you Polonius).
But hey, it’s a process!
- I will not conquer all my fears but I have come a long way in dealing with them.
- I will never win the World’s Best Wife Award but my marriage is stronger, healthier and way more fun than it was way back in the resolution-making phase.
- I will never give parenting advice but my adult kids all like me and say they had a great childhood. Parents are too hard on themselves!
And in case I still felt discouraged in light of all my failed resolutions, Pastor Dan quoted: And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 New Living Translation)
So don’t lose hope or give in to cynicism, fellow failed resolvers–
- we are the majority after all!
- there is no earthly deadline because self-improvement seems to be on the heavenly agenda.
- as we walk with God, listening for His guidance and seeking His will, He continues to lead us to be more like Jesus and thus, a better version of ourselves.
- it’s a process!