“O man, He has told you what is good. What does the Lord ask of you but to do what is fair and to love kindness, and to walk without pride with your God?” Micah 6:8 NLV
Resolutions: Those elusive goals we set for ourselves for the New Year that seem to be so important, then over time (sometimes a very short time) get put aside.
I am a resolution-maker, promising to do things I need to do for self-improvement or things I want to accomplish during the year. After all, I feel like I do need some direction or I will wander aimlessly through the days just getting by. A New Year is a fresh start; chance to do over or do something new that I've never done before. But like millions of others who make resolutions, my resolve usually unravels within a few weeks.
So over the years, prayer has become an important dimension of my New Year's resolutions. What does God want me fo focus on for the year? What specifically does he want to change in me or what new thing does he want me to accomplish?
After praying about what the Lord had in mind for me last year, I made 2 resolutions. One I kept pretty well and the other eventually fell by the wayside.
Resolution one - exercise... (Yes, I hear that collective groan. LOL!) After praying about it, I sensed God was encouraging me to use the equipment I had to exercise more. So I started exercising on my Gazelle faithfully in January and worked my way up to about a half hour a day by March.
Some days I really had to push myself to do it, but I had gotten into a habit which made it easier to keep going. And I felt good about myself for doing it, not to mention I felt more energetic. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.... Right?
My resolve lasted until July when I developed a back problem. I had a lot of pain so I stopped getting on the Gazelle. That proved to be my undoing because after a few Chiropractic treatments, the pain subsided, but I just couldn't seem to get back to it. An unexpected problem interrupted my forward momentum and I wasn't able to regain it.
The other resolution was to write and post a devotional blog every day - Monday to Friday. Though I haven't always posted every weekday, I did continue all year, averaging at least 3-4 posts per week.
So when 2013 rolled around, I began the process again of praying about my goals for the new year.
But my decision to move forward with new resolutions for 2013 took forced me to use God's mirror to examine what happened last year. Why was I successful with one and not the other. What did I learn? What do I need to change to be successful in this year's resolutions?
1.God had reasons for the things he wanted me to do. Both resolutions involved exercise - one physical and the other mental and spiritual.The physical exercise helped me to be more active. Because I had more energy, I accomplished more during the day. Even my creative processes improved. Writing a devotional about a Bible verse each day helped keep my spiritual life sharper so that when the difficult times came this past year, i didn't fall apart.
2. Develop a plan with accountability so that you will remain motivated or get re-motivated when interruptions or problems arise, especially if it's a resolution you're not excited about. There were interruptions both in my writing and exercise goals, but I automatically picked my writing back up after the interruptions, because it's something I love doing.
Not so with the exercise, though I really needed to pick it back up. The "want-to" just wasn't there. Letting down on the physical exercise affected my energy levels and productivity in many areas as well as my productivity as a writer. I needed a plan with accountability to help motivate me again after my back problem nixed the exercise.
3. Back up your goals or resolutions with prayer. It's inevitable. Things will happen that get us off track with our goals. Even though we prayerfully set our goals in the beginning, knowing it's what God wants us to do for the year, we need to remember to pray about those goals all year long. It's not just enough to want to do something or to know we ought to do it.
Looking back, I realized I prayed often about my writing. Everyday when I sat down to blog, I prayed about what to write and for help in the writing. But I don't remember praying about my exercise resolution - even after the back problems, I failed to pray for the want-to and oomph to get started again.
So this year as I pray about my resolutions, I've been asking the Lord these questions: What do you want me to focus on this year? Help me to develop a plan to do them with accountability. And if I get off track, what should I do to get back on track?
But, I think my biggest resolution of all will be to pray about my resolutions daily!