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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "resolution"

It's that time of year, when we make all kinds of promises to ourselves that this year will be different - that we will be better and do better - promises that most of us will not keep. At least I won't.

Might as well go ahead and cross out 2021 (and 2022)

Sometimes I wonder why I even make my annual New Year's resolutions, seeing as I rarely keep any of them. And yet I still make them. This year, our family resolved to try to reduce our use of paper towels to zero, to both save money and help the environment. (I changed out the roll in the kitchen for the second time yesterday.) We also resolved that each of us would read 22 books in the year '22. I have yet to start #1, but look forward to getting into the genre of novellas. (I also need a ruling on whether or not comic books count, if anyone has any opinions.)

But I'm wondering if we should take the pressure off of ourselves, and loosen . I tend to think of New Year's resolutions as this monolithic goal for an entire year, which is really just a setup to feeling like a failure come December (or July...or March...). But I recently found a lot of comfort and hope in an article by Tish Harrison Warren. She writes,

I’d argue that the chief value of resolutions is not found in our success or failure at keeping them. Instead, they help us reflect on what our lives are like, what we would like them to be like and what practices might bridge the difference. There is goodness then in the very process of making resolutions. There is hope in the idea that we can change — that we can keep growing, learning and trying new things. This hope of renewal is the point of resolutions for me.

(And, she offers 10 resolutions that are good for your soul, and which I found to be very helpful and meaningful.)

Even the word "resolution," as staunch and unwavering as it sometimes sounds, comes from a Latin stem that means "to loosen," which evolved into the meaning of "breaking into parts; reducing to simpler forms," which then became " to decide upon; to conclude."

So maybe we (and by that, I mean "I") can loosen our (my) mindset around resolutions, and instead discover the reflection and renewal that can come with them - what we might call "repentance and rebirth" in the language of our faith - and find hope in the idea that we can keep growing and learning and becoming more of the people God is calling us to be. And maybe, especially when we fail to keep our resolutions, we will find grace.

Nadia Bolz-Weber offered this blessing for ringing in the new year, which rings true for me:

So this year, may you just skip the part where you resolve to be better, do better, and look better this time.

May you give yourself the gift of really, really low expectations.

May you expect so little of yourself that you can be super proud of the smallest of accomplishments.

May you expect so little of the people in your life that you actually notice and cherish every small lovely thing about them.

May you expect so little of the supply chain and the service industry that you notice more of what you do get and less of what you don't and then just tip really well anyhow.

May you expect to get so little out of 2022 that you can celebrate every single thing it offers you, however small.

And, most importantly,

May you remember that there is no resolution that, if kept, will make you more worthy of love.

So I hope we will read all the books and not use all the paper towels. And I hope you will exercise more and eat better and and do all the things you say you want to do. And when you don't, I hope you will still be able to celebrate the many small gifts of the year, and know "there is nothing in all of creation [nor anything we resolve to do or fail to do] that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:38-39, my Revised Resolution Version)

May we go into this new year in the hope of that promise.


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