Last night, as this little blog on New Year’s resolutions was almost finished and about to be due, I discovered a month-old article written by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. The topic and byline: “Baptism begins real new year; Resolutions will always come up short in our attempts to remake ourselves.”
You probably see the irony: when Presiding Bishop Eaton has already authored a brilliant, encouraging article about New Year’s resolutions, what could I possibly hope to add? Yet, at the 11th hour, what topic could I possibly substitute?
So, here’s the thing. Presiding Bishop Eaton disfavors New Year’s resolutions for theological reasons which I never thought of. I disfavor them because it seems for me nothing comes of them, and when my behavior does need to change (which is generally the point of any New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made) it doesn’t have to be tied to the start of a new year.
In truth, in the busy-ness that is the business of life, it is undeniably hard to sustain the behavioral changes we’d like the resolutions to fix. We are called to care for so many things in this world, and something (usually the personal) must often give way when we are pulled and stretched by our obligations.
However, sometimes, whether planned or unplanned, whether accident or necessity, we do find ourselves with new, changed behavior. Case in point: I’ve just had a slight change caused simply by coming to the end of a four-year council commitment. Because other responsibilities always called more loudly, there was part of the council job that I neglected for four years. At last, by necessity, with my term ending I could no longer delay taking care of that neglected area.
Amazingly, and without planning, that one clean-up has given energy to the cleaning of other dark, hidden corners of my house and, truthfully, my soul. Having started the work, I hope I can accomplish all that I’d like to. I feel rejuvenated by what’s already been done. It probably won’t be a permanent change – things will still get messy again – but I have seen a glimpse of better possibilities and have known a Spirit-given sense of freedom and restoration.
You see, as Presiding Bishop Eaton wrote, it’s not in making and keeping New Year’s resolutions that we are made new. Instead, she says, it is “in baptism [that] freedom from the past and new possibility come together. In baptism we are now in Christ … We have been set free.”
- How do you approach the start of a new year? Are you eager with the possibility of change?
- Has the first month of 2015 met your hopes and expectations, or has 2015 brought a dreaded and unexpected twist to your life?
- What kind of tools or resources help you make a behavioral change? When you are trying to change your behavior, are you helped by sharing the information with others, or do you prefer to keep very private?
Becky Shurson, of Yucaipa, Calif., is serving as secretary of the churchwide women’s organization for the 2014-2017 triennium.
Photo by Oliver Symens. Used with permission.