Tag Archives: Resolutions

New Year, New You?

scrabble-resolutions.jpg

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRS)

Resolutions are great, except for when they aren’t.  Sure, they serve a good purpose for setting priorities, opening new horizons and creating positive change.  Yet, if we feel we fall short they also come with a side-dish of guilt, something that parents of children with special needs cope with constantly anyway. So what’s the solution to keeping a New Year’s resolution?

Bing Crosby had some good advice “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” In accentuating the positive, I started choosing a variety of goals for the New Year. I choose one thing I’d like to learn, one habit I’d like to change, and one challenge goal that is my personal moon shot for the year.  One year my “learning” and “challenging” resolution were one in the same. I learned to scuba dive despite being claustrophobic and uncomfortable in the water.  Plus, the movie Jaws left an indelible mark on my psyche as a child. Approaching it this way, accentuating the positive, resolutions have become fun, plus I have a whole year to achieve them. I’ve learned how to do things that had lingered on my list of, “someday I would like to…,” I’ve eliminated some bad habits and created healthier ones, and I’ve tested limits and been surprised by what I can do.

It’s the “eliminating the negative” that is the real challenge when it comes to resolutions.  We all fight that voice of doubt that says, “No, you can’t.” Some days we miss the mark, and guilt sets in. We can eliminate the negative by offering ourselves a measure of grace. It takes forty days to make a new habit, or break an old one for good. It’s okay to have a bit of trial and error along the way.  The main thing is that we can trust in Paul’s words to the Corinthians.  “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” That is the true and ultimate new you. The best resolution we’ve all made is to become followers of Christ.  That is the most important “new you” any of us will ever be.  How we celebrate that new creation is important, but when we fall short of perfection in resolutions we can trust that grace abounds.

So how did I do on my 2016 resolutions? I nailed two out of three, and grace abounds.

It is not too late to start a resolution on the second week of January. The year has not been “ruined” by missing a week already. There is still plenty of time to learn, explore, and succeed.

Renewing God,  remind us again of how you make all things new.  Open our eyes to new possibilities and shape us to be who you call us to be. Amen

Happy New Year, and happy new you!

Lorna Bradley

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What Time Is It?

Bar Harbor

Three, two, one… Happy New Year! New Year’s Eve always brings to mind evenings with my cousins when I was growing up.  The adults dressed up and went out. We kids ate pizza, played board games and stayed in with Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve.  As the New Year drew closer we ran through the house checking all of the clocks so that we would know the exact time of midnight. So many clocks with so many differences, “What time is it? What time? Is now the time?”

The New Year is a great opportunity to take stock of what time it is in our lives.  We all go through seasons. That is a normal part of life. The wisdom text of Ecclesiastes reminds us of those seasons.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NRS)

One of the more puzzling lines for me is, “a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together.”  Neither of those practices are part of my everyday life. In the agricultural society of ancient Israel, throwing away stones was part of preparing the fields. Israel has fertile land, but is also very rocky.  While preparing the fields a farmer would throw stones out of the plowed land to make way for the coming planting season.  The fewer rocks in the field, the more productive the soil.

It is far too easy to hold onto stones that do not serve us well, making us less content: grief, guilt, and anger, to name a few. These are all valid feelings and each has a season, but when is it time to cast them away?

What about, “a time to gather stones together?” In ancient Israel when people made a covenant, or wanted to remember a time and place in which God’s presence was made known, they gathered stones into a small stack. This served as a reminder of what God had done in that place and the covenant that was made.

In a way, throwing away stones and gathering stones together are much like our New Year’s resolutions.  It’s letting go of something that does not serve us well and marking a promise for a new tomorrow. Is now the time? What do you want to do differently in your life? How can you remind yourself and keep that promise? How can you invite God into a fresh start in a new year? As you enter the New Year, give over to God the stones that weigh you down and celebrate with joy the new year filled with new possiblities.

Holy God, Thank you for the way you make all things new.  You are the God of wonder and possibilities. Renew us in this New Year that we better reflect the image of you that you call us to be. Amen.

Photo: Bar Harbor Altar by Lorna Bradley