Give Up on All New Year’s Resolutions But One
By: Lisa Robertson
It’s that time of year again — NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION time. You know, when we swear that we are going to eat healthier, drop a few pounds, and get our beach body going. Or maybe we vow to make some serious moral changes like giving up our addiction to alcohol, pornography, or drugs.
I don’t know when the world began to think that the first day of January was a great opportunity to begin to “do better,” but we’ve been making these resolutions for as long as I’ve been alive.
I would like to ask you a question, however. And be honest with us — how many times have these resolutions produced real change in your behaviors? You may be one of the very few folks who have actually carried through on your commitment to be a better person, but the best that most of us can say is, “At least our heart was in the right place.”
The reason that we often fail is that real change is not about “doing better.” That’s because real change — fundamental change — is never because we promise to do better. Oh, we might drop a few pounds or drink one less Margarita per day, but that’s not real change. Usually, those old thoughts and feelings that led to our sin still lurk in our hearts. We are essentially the same old sinner we always were — maybe a little better, but the same, nonetheless.
During the worst period of my life, when Satan really had control of my heart, I hated my behaviors. I followed a very clear pattern: My moral failures would be followed by self-hatred which would be followed by very sincere promises to never do it again.
If you were to ask me how this strategy worked out for me, I would tell you that it didn’t work out for me at all. Oh, I might have resisted the temptations for a few days, but sooner or later, Satan always won the battle.
If you had known me then, you might have argued with me that what I was doing was self-destructive — that my failure to stay away from sexual impurity was destroying my life. And I would have told you, “Duh! I already know that!” Do you think that I didn’t feel the pain of self-destruction? Of course, I did. What I was doing kept me up at night and haunted my thoughts all during the day. Telling me to improve myself would have only made things worse for me.
My problem was that I thought my failure to gain control over my sins and addictions was completely my fault. I thought that I was the only one who could control me. And I thought that I was all alone.
THE ONLY REAL ALTERNATIVE TO SELF-IMPROVEMENT: TO BE TRANSFORMED BY GOD
Thankfully, after years of failing to live up to my own expectations, I finally came to the end of me. And when I came to the end of me, I had only one person to go to — my Lord and Savior, Jesus. And when I went to him, I went empty-handed. I had nothing to offer him in exchange for him changing my life. All I could do was stand before him naked and ashamed and plead for mercy.
That’s when I realized for the first time that God wasn’t offering me the opportunity to “do better.” He wasn’t offering to make me the “best version of myself.” Instead, he promised to make me into a new person. A transformed person. Into a woman who was fundamentally different from the old Lisa. He not only offered to make me new, but he promised that he would send his spirit to live inside me.
Did you get that? This is what God did for me. He didn’t put me “on the couch” and instruct me to tell him about my relationship with my mother like he was my mental health professional in the sky. No, he transformed me. He changed who I was. He put me in his witness protection program where the enemy couldn’t destroy me anymore. The new Lisa was resurrected from the grave where I had buried (by his power) the old me.
DECISIONS! DECISIONS! DECISIONS!
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that we can experience this kind of change without deciding that we want something more…something better. But the decision that we must make (if we want to really be different) is to decide that we can trust God to tell us the truth about reality. That’s what I did. Everything I had done up to that point was rooted in my own selfish desire to trust myself to be god.
Irrational? Well, of course it was. But that’s how Satan operates — he convinces us that we can’t trust God. That he doesn’t have our best interests at heart. But when my sinful desire to be my own god collided with God’s love for me, that is when I was ready for him to take over. That’s when I came to the end of myself. And that is when God began to transform me into a new person.
I would encourage you to give up on all New Year’s resolutions this year except for one — the resolution to pray fervently for God to reveal himself to you and transform you into someone else. Someone who mirrors the image of Christ. The miracle is that when you do that, your behaviors will naturally begin to change. I am so grateful that I finally listened to the voice of God that said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will never perish.”