Becoming New

As we approach the new year, I always find myself racking my brain for something to put on a resolution list. I have this left-over obligation from elementary school to have at least three because we had to write five paragraph essays on them. My resolutions haven’t ever been anything better than terrible, and I don’t think I’ve even remembered them beyond January.  I think in sixth grade I had a rather long, incredibly cliche list of things that included “fall in love.” Who even knows what love is in the sixth grade? It’s safe to say that I’m more than a little embarrassed I even thought to write that down.

I was never committed to them in any way,shape, form, or fashion. They never reflected genuine improvements I wanted to make in myself. They didn’t show my personality at all. (Except for the one about making perfect grades-that’s got me written all over it, but hardly qualifies as a “resolution.”) I’ve spent some time lately thinking about my list for 2014. At first, I was really excited about it. I decided that it was all going to be based around improvements in my relationship with God and the way that I treat other people. They were all going to have Biblical support so that I could cite the Bible verse when I wrote them down. It sounds really ridiculous, and I really didn’t care because I was being a good Christian girl… Until I realized that it wasn’t such a grand idea. Resolutions have a history of being a failure in my life, and I feel like my relationship with the Lord and how I treat other people are just a bit too important to write down and then forget about.

We read Hemingway in my English class, and one of the recurring life lessons that my teacher lectures on is how people don’t change just because they say that they are. There are these characters who have been developed well and made out to be a certain way. Then at the end, they say something that makes you think they’re going to change. The thing is, they never do anything that makes that change believable. I’ve decided that change doesn’t occur in people as a result of them saying that it will. Change in people occurs as a result of deliberate acts done in order to achieve that change. You can’t improve if you don’t do anything to make it possible.

I’m not going to have any resolutions this year. Saying I’m going to do something doesn’t work for me if I never find the time to fit it into my schedule. My heart is never going to be committed to something I decide to improve just because it’s a new year. If the new year inspires you and motivates you, that’s great. Take that and use it to do fantastic things every single year. I wish it could do the same for me. I still absolutely love everything I think that New Year’s symbolizes: hope, new opportunities, and a fresh start. But I don’t want all those things to be confined to that one day. I think that it’s never too early or too late to be whoever you want to be. Every day comes with the chance to change, improve, and do something great. The very minute I decided that I wanted to be more gracious and compassionate with every person, I should have made a conscious effort to do just that. I shouldn’t have waited just so I could have a resolution list that looks great on the outside. I’ve come into contact with countless people who probably needed kindness and grace much more than I want a pretty, organized list. It’s not your resolutions that matter. Those really don’t matter at all. It’s your actions that count. And all of our actions matter, not just the ones on New Year’s.

I have a strong admiration for Mother Teresa. About halfway through middle school, I decided that I wanted to be like her when I grew up. Keywords: when I grew up. She was the perfect example of being Jesus to the least of us, and I couldn’t wait to finish school and figure out how I was going to do that in my life. Then something happened at school and I realized that “being Jesus to the least of us” wasn’t confined to the children’s home in Calcutta or Africa or adulthood. It’s not confined at all. The students at my high school need love just as much as the people I’m going to meet later on in life. And now I go to school every single day wanting to make a positive difference in the life of at least one person. It can be as simple as letting someone borrow a pencil or walking a water bottle to a football player so he doesn’t have to get it himself. I know it doesn’t always happen, and believe me, there have been plenty of instances where I’ve told people I don’t have gum just because I don’t want to share or made a sassy remark when asked to do something for someone. I have to continually make myself put in the effort to be like Christ. While I don’t always succeed in that endeavor, I’m doing better with it than I’ve ever done with a resolution, and it’s not something I’ve ever written down or decided to do because of the new year. I think it’s because the new year isn’t what makes me new; Jesus is. He is constantly taking broken people and making them beautiful people, and He does it in many different ways.  I’m inspired much more by people than I am by time or seasons. It’s my interactions with people that drive my desire to treat them a certain way. I’m constantly interacting with people, so I have a constant source of inspiration, a constant reason to love. I don’t have to wait until the next year or until I turn twenty-one. My heart is already one hundred percent invested, and I can start each day with the resolution to love just a little more than I did the day before.

I hope that in the coming year your life becomes everything you want it to be. I hope you are able to keep the resolutions you make, and if you don’t make any, I hope that you find yourself in a situation that becomes the inspiration you need. I hope you grow. I hope you find something close to your heart that you can pour your soul into, and I hope that every day brings the hope we find every new year.  I hope you stand up for something. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and I hope you find the strength to start all over if you aren’t. I hope you let go of everything that burdens you. I hope you put aside the need for perfection, and I hope you realize you are good enough. I hope you don’t let fear stop you. I hope you are able to do the things you want to do, and I hope your desire to do them overpowers your excuses. I hope you find peace. I hope you figure things out. I hope you let yourself change for the better, and I hope you let yourself change other people for the better as well. I hope you don’t give up on yourself or anyone else.  I hope with all of my heart that you become exactly the person you want to be. That person’s going to change, and every time it changes, I hope you find a way to change too.

1 Corinthians 16:23-24,
Shannon

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