by Rev. Laura Barclay
This is the time of year when we frantically realize December is coming to a close and we haven’t yet made our resolutions for the coming year. Whether it’s joining a gym, losing five pounds, or eating better, we think this will be the year. According to research done by the professors at the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, around 40-45% of adults in the United States make New Year’s resolutions. Only 46% of these resolutions are maintained six months later. My longest New Year’s resolution, to work out at a gym three times a week, lasted for eight months one year. Most likely, this was because I had fear motivating me to fit into a wedding dress.
What is it about us? We like fresh starts and new beginnings, a chance to get it right this time. It’s only natural. Perhaps instead of or in addition to the usual resolutions, we should resolve to listen to God in our lives. The more we spend time trying to discern where we see God in our lives and our communities, the better disciple we can be. If we spend a few times a week in silence for 15 minutes, perhaps we’ll begin to notice people and places we neglected before because of hectic routines and schedules. We might find our perspectives moving from stressful inward worrying to productive outward care and mindfulness.
Here are some possible questions to process as you pray or meditate, some of which we’ve discussed in my workplace as a guide for our ministry:
Where is God working in my life?
Do I know anyone that needs extra care?
How do I exhibit the love of Jesus in my daily life?
Where is God working in the community?
What are some concerns I’ve seen in my community?
What kind of community does God intend us to become?
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t make it through the New Year with your goal. That same study showed that those who do make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who do not. And though I don’t still go to the gym three times a week, I have drastically changed what I eat and stay more active than before. Hopefully, remembering this can help motivate me to spend more quiet time with God, even if I fall short of my goal. Have a blessed New Year, and may your resolutions be fruitful!