Growing up, I only half-heartedly committed to New Year’s resolutions. They were mainly based on ‘shoulds’, made up on the spot when called into question.
However, entering adulthood and ‘settling’ has led me to consider more deeply the type of life I want to lead, the person I want to be and the impression I want to leave. In ordinary, mundane everyday life, how does living as a Christian look any different? What does that mean for the small everyday decisions I make? The way I interact with people?
I’ve often found that it’s actually the more subtle differences in the way we choose to operate that make the biggest impact when it comes to loving God and loving others well.
Last year my husband Ben and I decided to use the new year as an opportunity to work on something that frustrates us about the way we work, a behavioural trait that is also pretty commonplace in our culture…flakiness!
For some reason, people often seem to be pretty bad at sticking to commitments or making them in the first place. Amongst a host of reasons, we get bored quickly, or we don’t like to commit in case we get a better offer, or we say yes to more than we actually have capacity for (I know I’m guilty of this one in particular!).
God challenged me on this by drawing my attention to Jesus’ teaching on vows in Matthew 5. He concludes in verse 37 by saying:
“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
Basically, my word should be my promise. Oath or no oath, I should simply say what I mean and stick to it. I felt challenged to apply this principle to the everyday commitments I make.
So, #dontbeaflake became the hashtag for Ben & I’s resolution. We realised that to really make a difference and change the habitual behaviour ingrained in us, we had to get strict about it.
This meant sometimes saying no to things now and disappointing others initially to prevent us from flaking out later resulting in bigger disappointment. This meant getting better at managing our schedule to make sure we didn’t over commit to stuff, leaving space for spontaneity and last-minute plans. This meant sticking to what we committed to, honouring our word, even if we got a better offer or felt like we couldn’t be bothered on the day. To other people that change may not be obvious, but we felt the shift significantly. We felt like we could love and look after people better, being clear and setting better expectations on what we could offer. This was particularly important because we often find ourselves spending time with people who are often so used to people letting them down they expect it as the norm. We wanted to demonstrate through our own behaviour that Jesus is different.
I haven’t yet decided on what this years’ resolution will be, although God has recently drawn my attention to this teaching in Philippians 2: “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” I just know that’s going to be a challenging one to commit to!
What’s yours going to be? How do you want to live differently?