Comedian Joey Adams said, “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!” Boy, ain’t that the truth!
Every workout facility employee will tell you to avoid the gym the first 3 weeks of January. It’s packed with size 14’s trying to make good on their New Year’s resolution to get to a size 4. Then, in February, it’s a barren wasteland for the “regulars” to enjoy again.
Are “resolutions” really the best way to bring about a true change in your life? I met with JoAnn Hummel to get some perspective on that question. She’s qualified because she is the Pastor of Global Missions for Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, Texas AND, all-around wise and spiritual woman!
There are many articles giving advice about how to stick to your resolutions. As you might guess based on my interviewee, this one is more spiritual and God-centered in its approach. If you’ve been trying and failing at something, it can’t hurt to bring in the Big Guy. If you’re sincerely ready for a change, God can help you do it!
Here are JoAnn’s 4 ways to up your 2013 New Year’s resolution outcome….
1) Give it up!
To resolve means "to bring an end to something." Said differently, we're trying to "re-solve" a problem in our life. I don't know about you, but solving and re-solving (and re-solving) sounds like a daunting challenge.
We think “if I just tried harder, I could accomplish this thing!” For most of us, this “trying harder” leads to a cycle of defeat and frustration. More effort does not always equal more success.
While it’s an honorable intention, the challenge is that a New Year’s resolution is based on “trying harder” versus “trusting more.” In Corinthians 2, Paul talks about how he trusted God instead of his own abilities:
“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Paul’s resolution was about Jesus - Jesus was the power that made the change. Here’s something JoAnn does every year before Christmas. First, she asks God to highlight an area in her life that needs work or attention (she then adds “Dear God, keep it to one, please.”). Once she zeroes in on an area, she writes it on a piece of paper. She notes that it’s important to keep it focused as not to overwhelm yourself.
She then wraps the piece of paper in a beautiful box with ribbons and puts it under the tree with a gift tag that says “To: Jesus; Love: JoAnn.” It’s a physical gesture to say “I’m going to give You this area of my life to help me change as You see fit.” Ask him to help you focus on it, to open your ears and eyes to it. Replace trying with trusting. With this act, you’re giving Jesus a gift on His birthday…more of you! And this is the gift on the top of His list!
2) Mix it up!
Let’s start with an exercise: DON’T think about a pink elephant. What’s the first thing that popped into your head? A pink elephant!
When you’re mulling over an area of your life you want to change, turn it around to the positive version.
JoAnn’s parents had issues with alcoholism and schizophrenia, which led to JoAnn having an issue with lying as a child. This carried over into her adult life and she knew God was highlighting this as a change.
Instead of “I will not lie”, she turned it around to “I will be a speaker of truth.” Instead of “I will lose weight” (negative), change it to “I will be healthy” (positive). Instead of “I will get out of debt” (negative), change it to “I will be a good steward of my finances.”
When we say, “I will get out of debt, I will get out of debt, I will get out of debt,” our mind hears “debt, debt, debt!” That’s not positive and it reinforces the bad pattern! When we say, “I will be a good steward of my finances, I will be a good steward of my finances, I will be a good steward of my finances,” our mind hears “good steward, good steward, good steward.” That’s positive and reinforces a healthy pattern!
3) Listen up!
Many people say, “God doesn’t speak to me.” But, do you ask? So often, we’re in such a hurry that we don’t just sit, ask and listen to Him speak. God doesn’t have trouble speaking, but we sometimes have trouble asking and listening.
If we truly ask and desire His input, He is faithful to speak to us. JoAnn says she finds a quiet place, asks God to speak to her and starts journaling about the areas in her life she thinks He wants to work in. And, He never fails to highlight an area in her life!
4) Partner up!
JoAnn says “we are product-oriented people who are in love with a process-oriented God.” In other words, we just want the outcome quickly (out of debt, a new house, weight loss, etc.), but God loves the process of us coming to Him, trusting Him, and working through our issues with Him. He wants us to come to Him and be in relationship with Him.
We try to take a consistent problem and re-solve it vs. trusting in God and asking for His help.
He created us to be in fellowship with Him - He doesn’t want us in isolation trying to hammer it out by ourselves. A resolution to change isn’t just yours….it belongs to you and God.
This year, try something different! Resolve to let Christ be the solution in you, to trust vs. try and see what God will do!