As we turn the page on the calendar to a new year, it is almost impossible to not stop and think about where we have been and where we are going. A new calendar year is often a chance for new beginnings and a time of recommitting ourselves to the things we believe are important in life. It’s easy to get lost during the course of a year and January 1st brings with it a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again. Of course, the reality is that EVERY day is a new beginning and a new year. We have the ability to start with a clean slate at any moment we choose; it’s just that we are usually too busy to even remember we have that choice.
Reflection is a GREAT thing in which we should engage. Taking even a few moments a day to get still and quiet can do wonders for our spirit (and our sanity) and we ought to do it more often. I realize we are all extremely busy. It is the nature of our society. It doesn’t matter if you work at a job, home, in ministry or in some other volunteer capacity. No matter what it is, the pace is almost impossible to maintain and is something I believe God never intended for us. There is a reason He gave us a day for rest, and He even gave us an example of it in the creation of the universe. He rested on the seventh day not because He was tired, but for an example to us that rest is important! Rest allows us to contemplate, and we cannot contemplate very long before our spirits begin to consider God and His creation. That’s a good thing! When we consider these things, it puts everything else in life in perspective. When we remember that there are things bigger than ourselves, it helps our troubles fade into the background for a while and brings new perspective.
Reflection is really a two-pronged activity: 1) We remember the blessings we’ve experienced. 2) We remember the mistakes we have made and the consequences those mistakes brought to our world. There isn’t much danger in an over-consideration of how much we have been blessed in the past, but there is definitely a danger of over-considering all of our mistakes. Reflecting on the things we need to do differently or areas in which we need to change can spur us to become better people. It can also remind us of how far short we have fallen in what we wanted to accomplish in the past year (or in our lives). How we react to these realizations and reflections will determine whether or not our next year is an amazing one or one that we will gladly be saying goodbye to next December 31st.
I’m not big on resolutions. I don’t make them because I know they usually end up being more like wishes than commitments. It’s easy to look at a new year and think about all the things I’d like to accomplish this year. It may be a wish, a goal, or a dream but that doesn’t make me committed to it. I can say, “I’m going to lose weight this year” (or anything else) and make that my “resolution,” but unless I actually commit to it long-term, it isn’t a resolution at all!
Commitment is an interesting thing. It isn’t an activity that is loud or visible; it is something that is quiet, strong and steady when no one else is looking. It doesn’t need accolades or applause. It simply needs a humble heart whose desire for sincere change runs deeper than a need for the approval of others. Commitment is staying true to the path or changes to which you have been called rather than just “trying” it for a while before going back to your comfort zone.
So let us begin 2015 not with resolutions, but with resolve. Let us not begin with promises, but with promise. If we will look within and commit to simply living our beliefs rather than trying to conform to what we think others want us to be or do, we will find this year to be one of our greatest…no matter what circumstances it may hold.