2020 vision, habits, and all other similar puns for the new year.

Some people do resolutions, and are proud to announce (and post photos on social media). I'm experiencing more instances of people fairly proud to announce that they don't do resolutions. I don't do them generally, but I don't feel pride about it either way. Do I lack resolve? Who knows. The Bible says our yes should be yes and our no should be no, and I don't want to keep resolving a yes to myself and not keeping that promise. I want to be more cautious.

The mechanics of resolutions are strange: one random day I am to decide to make massive changes in habits all at once across a broad spectrum of human existence. It's impossible in my own power. At no other point in the year would I attempt something so ridiculous.

Habits take a while to make and break. This past year, I got into a habit of taking some supplements for health purposes, but I didn't start in January and it didn't become a steady habit right away. Seriously, after much effort over about eight months, I've finally built the habit. I'm OK with that.

I have quite a list of habits I'd like to make and break, but on January 1 (and in the month of January), I will be making zero forced effort to make them happen. Why?

  1. Some are spiritual in nature, and I can't do that in my own power. I have to want, then ask, then listen, and then obey God. But He does the main work, on His timeline. For me to force a success timeline on the eternal is ridiculous. I might pray for something in 2020 that God started working on back in 2015 and might finish in 2024. It's not up to me, and I don't want my lack of understanding of His work to make me feel a failure or doubt I can trust God. 
  2. Some are lifelong wars that I might not win conclusively in this life much less this year. Various issues with food, money, and so on are wars I've had my whole life. Wars, mind you, not battles. Because some battles I've won, some I've lost. Some I've lost, then won, then lost again. The war is still active. Some years I made right habits, then lost when a life change happened. Some years I overcorrected and developed a new bad habit. For these wars, my prayer is that I don't fall into idolatry towards what my idea of success is, and that I don't become enslaved to some kind of internal emotional or spiritual bondage over the success and failures therein. I want to win battles but not get complacent thinking the war is over.
  3. Some are projects I want to achieve but I don't know what God has in store for me. It is easy enough to say "I'm going to write a book this year" knowing I've done it in the past. but some years God opens the doors to my goals, and other years He seems to say "will you join me in my work, which is different, instead?" This past year I wanted to get another book done, but I found myself leading quite a few women's/adult Bible studies, four of which I wrote the worksheets and guides for myself. I couldn't do both the book and a good job preparing for the classes for those I was teaching.

Resolutions are about what we want that's different from what we have or are. So my main question for 2020 is about vision (ha ha, yes, the pun emerges) of sorts. What do I want? Is my vision on the eternal or on the temporal?

Certainly the temporary has an effect on my spiritual walk if I allow it, so I won't dismiss the importance of such things as eating better, getting more sleep, and all of the things that are basically wrapped up into the spiritual fruit of self-control. Our health plays a huge role in how we feel emotionally and physically, which has an impact on our spiritual condition (whether we like that or not). But self-control doesn't always look the same for all of us, and that's where the challenge is in a world of comparison that we feed on social media. Self-control with money, particularly in God's economy, isn't going to look the same for everyone. Self-control with food won't mean we'll all be 2 percent body fat and buff.

Resolutions are almost always issues of self-control and idolatry, and both are tightly wrapped up into how we define success (which inevitably has a comparison and a timeline sneaked into that definition).

Every change I want to make is essentially one of mortifying my flesh (for all you KJVers out there) and turning ever more towards God. Do I want to consume (a me-centered approach) or do I want to give (a God-focused approach)? I can consume food, purchases, and time all for myself; when I go beyond what God would have me do, there's the excess. And there's the nagging sense that I need to resolve to do better in that area.

But I can't resolve to do better all on my own. I need God to help me. And He helps gently, on His timeline, for His result. I listen and obey without trying to go on in my own power for the result I think is the best one. There are things I could be better at as far as obedience, and I'll try, but I rely on God's grace.

So, as I told my email list, for 2020 I don't have resolutions in mind. I do have areas that I sense God wants me to continue prayerfully working on.

No, I'm not going to list them here. It's between me and God.

All I will say is go into the new year in rest and peace and joy on the truest sense, trusting in God's power instead of your own resolve. The former is eternal and the latter crumbles quickly.