It’s that time of year again!
Time to start the diet, get back in the gym, read that self-help book, find a new hobby, start a meditation practice, do a juice cleanse, quit drinking soda, spend less time on our phones, yadda yadda yadda, blahbity blah blah blah.
With 2022 all shiny and new (and also very easy to rhyme!), it’s easy to fall into the expectation of “New Year, New You.” Every December 31 for years, I made a list of resolutions for the new year. Some of them were fair, achievable goals, and others were so ridiculous that I that I might as well have resolved to grow wings and fly.
After a while, the whole “making resolutions” thing kind of went out of style and everyone started the seemingly less abrasive task of “setting intentions.” So every December 31 for a bunch more years, I made a list of intentions for the new year. But even though I didn’t feel like quite as big of a failure if I didn’t follow through…
…something still didn’t feel quite right to me.
Let me be clear: I’m all for self-improvement, healthy habits, and new ideas. In fact, I’ve got a self-improving new idea of a healthy habit of my own this year. I resolve (intend?) to go for a walk outside every single day in 2022 with an end goal of at least 1000 miles. Maybe saying it here will help keep me accountable.
But a few years ago, as I was no-doubt listening to an ad for some healthy food delivery service or high-speed blender, I started wondering.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we set the expectation of “New Year, New You?” It’s taken me almost 40 years to get to where I am now…and I kind of like myself. Am I allowed to say that out loud?
Although I am absolutely certain that there are things about me that still need serious work and attention, it sounds completely exhausting to have to try and conjure up a whole “new me” every single year.
But our culture (the first time I typed that word, I accidentally wrote “vulture” which is maybe okay, too?) would have us believe that we can’t be content without this anti-aging cream or that new diet fad or this fancy juicer or those new workout pants. We’re constantly being bombarded by commercials—on tv, radio, podcasts, you name it—that tell us we can be better, faster, stronger, smarter, or more beautiful if we just buy what they’re selling.
None of those things are bad. I’m always looking for ways to be better and smarter, and I’ll be the first to admit that I, too, have some anti-aging cream in my bathroom, a refrigerator full of kale, a juicer that I love, and a fancy pair of fleece-lined leggings that make it much easier to get out for a walk on a frigid winter day.
So yes, sometimes we buy the things. But what I came to realize, and what I remind myself every January, is that the stuff isn’t what will make me different or better. It might make things a little easier along the way…
…but true change comes from God.
When we open ourselves up to God’s leading and really lean in to what He’s saying, it becomes possible to make lasting, life choices that change us for the better.
If you’re trying to exercise more or eat better or spend less time on technology this year, go for it! Just be sure to bring God into the process with you. And I have an idea of how to do that.
Just as we did in December, let’s pick a word.
But not just any word.
A word that has been asked for, prayed for, listened for.
A word that will go with us into every season.
A word to shape and illuminate and guide.
A word to help us focus on what’s most important this year, and every year—listening to God, watching for His work, and following where He leads.
Over the last week as I spent time praying for my word, God gave me BEGIN. When it popped into my head, I knew immediately that it was from God because of the sort of scared/nervous/excited feeling I got in the pit of my stomach. Isn’t that just how it is with following God? A little bit scary and a whole lot of excited.
And so I ask again as I did in December:
Will you join me?
Pray about your word and listen for God to answer (and if you start to feel a little nauseous you’re probably on the right track). Let’s stop making resolutions that don’t stick and intentions that are only half-hearted. Instead, let’s tune in to where God is headed in 2022, and see how our year shapes up when we trust that He’s capable of leading us to true, lasting change.
Also, check out Chelsey’s other “word” article: My Holiday Focus Word: Peace