I have no longer tended to make New Year’s resolutions because I have come to lose faith in humanity, particularly my own. I have come to realize that if I am going to bring about changes in my life then I have to be smarter than myself. Wanting things to be different has been pretty limited in outcomes. Instead I have to change structures and plans in my life. In example rather than to determine to eat a healthier diet, I plan out meals and limit the junk food that I buy. Of course this means that I just need to plan further in advance to subvert my own good intentions.
In the formal studies of theology this is the “depravity of all humankind.” Apart from a savior, we cannot fix ourselves. Any attempts to make ourselves better requires two things, the intervention of God, and a community of souls to support us. This is the reason why very few are successful in overcoming addiction without recovery groups and other changes of healthy lifestyle do not happen without others participating in the changes with us. We can make commitments and setting our intention, identifying our goals is very important. But unless we begin from the point of recognizing our own limits, we cannot really hope to make long term changes.
So we learn to make a couple plans for making changes that will last. First, we need to choose to do the things that will give us the strength to accomplish other changes. These include developing around us the community of faith and support which will assist us in growing. This “posse of transformation” needs to be made up of people who are equally ready to grow and to experience similar forms of healing or renewal. Far too often we seek support from people who are not equipped to assist others in growth or change. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends with those folks – it’s just that they aren’t going to be able to help us to grow. Once we identify who will be on board with our growth and change, we need to share with them our intention and our desire that they will pray with us, support us, and keep us accountable. Changes tend to be far more effective when we know that there are people who care about us, that will be inquiring how we have done.
Secondly, we have to anticipate that failure is a part of the process. A friend of mine said that he had the perfect business plan. He was going to open a place that is a gym for the month of January and a burger joint / ice-cream bar the other eleven months out of the year. This reflects that the good intentions for working out tend to go well for a few weeks, then we miss a few days and that’s the end of it. The challenge is that after noticing we have failed, we try again.
This is especially true if the changes have to do with changing eating habits, how we use our time or other significant lifestyle changes. Part of what helps to restart, and keep at it is to find ways to measure the benefits of the changes we make. What are the outcomes we are planning as a result of our changes? How will they affect our lives, our health, and our relationships? How will they change the way we feel about ourselves?
So one of my plans is to return to keeping this blog up, and to post a couple times a week. This among others is an area of discipleship – rather than mastery. The degree of success will be somewhat obvious for those who check out our website regularly. The purpose of this part of the website is to share from a more personal side of thoughts, areas of reading, and personal growth. This area also has a feedback area so feel free to let me know what you think.