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New Year Resolutions - Saint James Church

New Year Resolutions

It is January 12 and I am still finalizing my New Year’s resolutions. I’ve tried to take them more seriously over the years. Therefore, deciding on what makes it to my list is more difficult than it used to be. I also like having a fresh start and a chance to reflect on what was and what might be. I don’t think we spend enough time living intentionally. Life is a gift after all, and one that should be well spent. People of faith have the additional complexity of trying to figure out what God wants on the list. But I think most of us would spend the year waiting if we expected resolutions 1through 10 to be laid out by the Divine. It doesn’t seem to work that way. At least, not for me. For many of us, God seems content to trust what we imagine for ourselves.

Why is that? It seems an important question to explore. (I will not say the answer, which would presume to know the mind of God.) But why would the God of the universe, the source of all light and life, trust me, a limited, mistake-prone human, to outline the most important aspects of my life for the coming year? Why not just send me a yearly “to do” list and be done with it? Wouldn’t we all be happier and the world a better place? Let me ruminate on this last question first. Then I will address the WHY question and end with some thoughts on trust.

It occurs to me that I am making a huge assumption about God’s objectives for this world when I suggest that human happiness and world improvement are the reasons God should give us each a list of resolutions. That is very human thinking. But I am not sure that it is a Godly perspective. Taking certain drugs will make us euphoric, but no one thinks that opium addiction is a blessing from God. Raising children will make us miserable (at least some of the time) but no one thinks that children are a curse from God. Surely these two extremes make the case that human happiness cannot be the purpose of creation. Learning and growth and achievement often come at great pain and suffering. The price of the resurrection was the cross. Perhaps the pursuit of human happiness is too narrow to build a meaningful life on.

It is harder for me to conceptualize that making the world a better place might not be a Godly perspective either. But how can there be imperfection in something made by a perfect Creator? God looked at creation and said it was good. There is no room for improvement in the beauty and wonder of this world. What could humans possibly do to improve on the work of God’s hand?! And the same can be said for humans who were made in the image of God and called very good at the time of creation. Jesus even called us God’s adopted children when we are in connection with the Divine. What blindness that we are obsessed with self-improvement because we do not see the beauty and wonder inherent in us all.

It is because we are God’s already perfect creations that God trusts us to choose our own priorities for our lives. Why does God let us choose? Because in so doing we claim our inheritance as children of the Most High. As the Spirit descended upon Jesus at the time of his baptism as an outward sign of an inward truth, so we make choices for our lives as an outward sign of an inward truth. We are the image of God on this earth. We are God’s children. Our job is not to create ourselves or to improve ourselves, but rather to unveil ourselves, our true selves, as a light in the world. And each of us has an individual and unique light to share that can only come from our own hopes and wants and dreams. We find them most truly in connection with the Divine. But they are each of ours to discover and to focus and to share with the world.

And so we trust God and the power of God’s creation when we trust ourselves to write our own resolutions. Through human eyes we are sinners and the world is a mess. But God sees everything through God’s eyes as the Creator and the Savior. Our call is not to be a creator remaking an imperfect world but to be the created recognizing our own beauty and worth and the beauty and worth of all that surrounds us. What part of ourselves can we unveil to the world this year? What part of the world’s beauty can we unfold? What joy is waiting to be unleashed? What happiness are we willing to forgo to achieve something greater? And how can we connect more strongly to God the Almighty who leads us into this promised land?

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