The first month of my 2020 hasn’t gone exactly like my resolutions predicted it would. I have a good feeling I’m not alone here.
We often spend the end of the year dreaming of ways to be better humans. We imagine a more active, disciplined, confident versions of ourselves, waltzing through the new year with ease. We fantasize about the future as if we are guaranteed all wishes to come true, each one according to our schedule. We don’t account for mess-ups, mistakes, and unforeseen life events. And in this process, we trick ourselves into believing we’re in charge of change.
While I love the lofty goals we set every December 31st, I am learning that the famous ball-drop is nothing more than a turn of the calendar. We won’t be magically healed when the clock strikes midnight. Our baggage and bruises inevitably ring in the new year with us - something we often forget when writing our New Year’s resolutions.
Don’t get me wrong - I love the confident energy that sweeps the world every January. I believe wholeheartedly in treating your body better, growing your mind, and getting outside of your comfort zone. I set my own intentions and goals for the new year alongside the rest of the world.
But this past January taught me that there is no workout regimen, financial discipline, or new habit that will singlehandedly restore my brokenness overnight. Even my best efforts at self improvement could fall short, life could unfold in ways I’d rather it didn’t. And that is okay.
I know this might sound a little depressing, but it’s a truth that has actually set me free. When we believe less in our new year’s resolutions and more in God’s purposes, we can relax right where we are.
God knows how our 2020 will unfold - our resolutions do not. This mindset takes the pressure off of us. We don’t have to try so hard to control our new year. When we trust God’s timing more than our human efforts at improvement, we relieve ourselves of the shame cycle that comes from (inevitably) falling a little short here and there.
Like you, I’ve got goals and plans, and there are definitely wise choices I should make for myself to get there. But the moment I give my resolutions more influence over my life than I give to God, I’ve missed the point. He is the only source of real restoration. He empowers me to change more than my own willpower ever can. I’ve got to stop worshiping my own timelines and intentions, and start surrendering my year to the only one who knows how it will unfold.
Proverbs 16:9 keeps me in check when I start believing that I’m in charge of change. It says, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”
We schedule. Daydream. Fantasize. Theorize. Predict. Prescribe. We plan the way we want to live.
But God makes us able to live. This verse does not promise life will happen on our schedule. It says nothing about our plans coming to perfect fruition. But it does promise that God can sustain us through a day, month, or even a year that doesn’t go as we expected.
Listen, I am preaching to myself here. I am far from having this figured out. But I’m tired of setting goals without grace for myself. I don’t want to place more power in a new year than I place in God. I can’t keep acting like I know how 2020 is going to go, and then getting disappointed when my plans change.
Slowly and surely, February has taught me to release my anxieties and expectations to God. When I let go, freedom floods in. Surrendering is far from easy, but life will happen either way - and I want to rest in the truth that God is in charge of all change.