Musing for 12/29/21 - New Year's Resolution Edition
So, we are coming up on the end of 2021 and the start of 2022 and you know what that means…New Year’s Resolutions.
Statistics tell us that between 75 and 80 percent of Americans make New Year's Resolutions each year and most start off with a serious plan in place to keep them.
The top three categories for these resolutions are improved health, exercise, self-improvement, and financial/money goals. And making New Year’s resolutions happens across all generations. Researchers were surprised to discover that higher percentages of younger folks make resolutions each year than older adults. Even among the oldest group surveyed, known to researchers as the “silent generation”—those born between 1919-1939—over 50% of this group still make yearly New Year’s resolutions. Yes, folks between 80 and 100 still want to grow and improve.
This near-universal human trait to “be better” is the reason that over the next week you will see numerous advertisements for Fitness Clubs, Financial Planning, Self-Help Courses (and now Apps), and Healthy-Delivery-to-Your- Door Meal Plans.
Some companies spend the vast majority of their advertising budget this time of year. In fact, for several years now Planet Fitness has even sponsored the New Year’s Eve Ball-Drop occurring in Times Square. And Oprah and her promotions for Weight Watchers are found everywhere right now—from TV commercials to radio spots to internet ads.
However, despite folks’ planning and best intentions, fewer than 8 percent of all those who make resolutions follow through with them for any significant period of time.
Because of this fact I have often joked that I should open a business called Resolutions that is a Gym from Jan 1st to the MLK holiday day and then a restaurant and night club for the rest of the year!
I joke about New Year’s Resolutions, but there is really nothing wrong with them, or with wanting to improve ourselves in an area of our lives. In fact, the Christian life is all about striving to grow in order to become all God would have us be.
The Apostle Paul was continually encouraging the followers of Jesus to grow and often used analogies comparing the life of faith to those who are in athletic training.
And even as Paul himself came to the end of his journey on Earth he wrote of his own life and walk in faith in these very types of terms. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 5:7)
Now if you further research why resolutions so often fail, you will discover lots of theories, but two of the major reasons or categories for failed resolutions are that people either:
1. Do not understand their why of doing the resolution and/or
2. Over-complicate their plan to complete the resolution.
Reading this I was reminded of a story of a lady who visited her doctor complaining of pain. She noted that every place she touched on her body hurt. She demonstrated touching her knee and elbow and chin and top of her head with her finger.
Each time she did she grimaced in obvious pain. The doctor looked at her and said I think I know what is wrong. He touched each of those area and remarkably there was no pain whatsoever.
The lady looked dumbfounded.
He was able to somehow hold back a grin as he said, “You have a broken finger." This lady failed to understand the why of her pain and had overcomplicated what might be going on in her mind.
The same thing can happen to us in our growth as believers. We worry about big things and forget that it is the simple ones that we need to follow.
Simon Peter was both a disciple and apostle, but he was also a person who had a list of traits that could be improved via New Year’s resolutions. However, even as he sought to grow as a follower of Christ, he recognized the most important resolution for us all to follow.
In 1st Peter 4 verse 8 he says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
Love—it is that simple and it is that hard.
LOVE ALL is what we should all write down as our resolution for Jan 1 and Jan 2 and every day that follows on the calendar.
And on those days when we fail at this challenging resolution, may we remember that God's love for us covers our failures and shortcomings and, thanks be to God, even our sins.