Even though I don’t believe in time except as an arbitrary construct, there is something great about a fresh new year that feels like an opportunity for a clean start. It’s like a new journal, waiting to be filled with good stories and creative ideas. I think it is great to use the New Year as an excuse to challenge oneself once again to put energy into being the best version of yourself.
Some people don’t actually make a commitment to do their resolutions, and this is mostly why resolutions get jeering, bad press. But last year, I made a whopping resolution to do a pescatarian version of Whole30 for 180 days and actually did it. It was really great and I felt fabulous. I’m so glad I did it!
This year, I am doing something different, but with just as much commitment. I am setting forth to build permanent habits of the variety I have stalwartly resisted in the past. The list of these is long and dull, but the remedy basically revolves around challenging false beliefs that I have erroneously accepted about myself. I will not only repeatedly correct false thinking, but just as importantly, meet it with consecrated action.
Once when preparing citations to read in a church service on Christian Science, I looked up in a concordance the concept of “perfection,” and I noticed two dramatically different ways that topic could be approached. One was the typical way we look at resolutions: clambering, reaching, and trying to be better. We can claw our way up to being better, but it is hard work, and that approach is usually not fun.
But another way is to accept that God already made us “very good” as the first chapter of Genesis claims, even if we can’t see it right now. We use an analogy that the glass in the window is just fine; we just need to remove the mud off from it. Then we’ll see out it with no obstruction. The glass itself does not need changing. So the other approach is to work out from the premise that God made me “very good” (my glass is just fine) instead trying to change anything intrinsic or fundamental. What would we be doing or thinking if we were already designed to be as awesome as we hope to be?
Contemplating about the varied results in the “up to” approach, I realized thinking of things as “should’s” rarely result in habit change. More likely, we just revert to increased self-loathing, while continuing to do (or not do) the same thing.
So I resolve this year to learn to take the “out from” approach instead. This doesn’t mean I’m in denial for whatever I need to change. There is plenty of mud on my window! Rather, I am identifying more with the person who wants to (and is perfectly able!) to do it right, rather than the one who has done it wrong so often in the past that it is ingrained as her identity. This is about washing away mud and keeping it off, while rejoicing in the all the great qualities of the original that were there the whole time.
First, I’ve started a blank journal where I’m writing down every false belief that comes to me as my own thought, and finding an opposite approach, then persuading myself of the truth of the opposite approach instead. This takes alertness and objectivity. I will be monitoring thought much more closely, and stepping out to do things with relish that before I would think I don’t want to do.
I am not just taking for granted that I’m any certain way or think any certain thing. This is revealing all sorts of educated beliefs that I hold about myself that are just plain not objectively true about myself as God created me and maintains me. The more specific I can be–”for example: I’m no good at exercise, I don’t like it, and have no time for it”– the easier it is to find the baby steps required to break that down in thought and action, and specifically be who God made me to be, regarding that issue. (Active! Vigorous! Perpetual!)
The kingdom of heaven is at hand and within me. I don’t have to wait for it. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray for “on earth as it is in heaven.” I thought of calling this project just that, until our youngest daughter dubbed it “buffing up my awesomeness.” My concept of myself needs a lot of shining up, not only in thought, but especially in deed. I like that title of our daughter’s, because it reminds me God made me to be awesome already, and what I do with it – i.e, how shiny and mudless that awesomeness is– is my gift back to God.
What will this look like, translated beyond my prayer journal into action? Where I identified myself as sedentary, I will be active. Where I am driven by false beliefs, I will not be. Where I am impatient, I will be patient. I will release any self identification that smacks of limitation, cynicism, laziness, inconsideration, or perfectionism. I will take massive imperfect action in the right direction, and just keep trying without giving up. Where I think I’m weak, I’ll learn to be strong. Where I don’t think I have the time, I’m going to re-examine and re-juggle my priorities.
I also bought a second journal where I am going to try to keep track of this new me with a whopping new habit tracker, which will evolve each month. It will start with baby steps. But unlike last year’s resolution, there is no end to this, but hopefully better habits that I get to keep until they are the new version of what is ingrained. I’m creating a new normal here. One more like what my Father/Mother God wants and designed for me.
What is your resolution for the New Year?