Some people make them. Few people keep them.
And most people find themselves anywhere from January 2nd on, feeling disappointed and frustrated.
Whether you are pro-resolutioner (it's a word, okay?) or not, the heart behind new year's resolutions can be found at the core of every human being; and not just at the beginning of a new year.
No matter your age, race, ethnicity, gender, career, or relationship status, as human beings we all share a common desire: MORE.
The desire for more, or something greater, exists in all of us but often manifests itself in different ways.
We want to HAVE more. More money. More time. More knowledge. More credentials. More clients.
We want to DO more. Donate more. Volunteer more. Read more. Exercise more. Love and respect our husband by cleaning our house and not complaining about it more. (side note: dishes are the WORST)
We want to BE more. More healthy. More Confident. More patient. More wise. More disciplined.
Each of these individual things are not bad in and of themselves. Money is not bad; desiring money is. Exercise is not bad; obsessing so much about exercise that it overtakes your life and health is.
In addition, desiring to better ourselves is not a bad thing either. However, I think the ultimate way we go about trying to better ourselves is not only a bad thing, but a potentially destructive and disobedient thing.
I joke about most resolutions ending on January 2nd, but the reality is, most people do not end up completing their beginning of the year goals. Instead, they hit a road bump (I'm looking at you Leviticus) and are left with guilt, frustration, disappointment, and a half a year left (or more) until they can "start over again" with the same resolutions.
At the end of 2017, I did a lot of thinking about the changes I wanted to see in myself in the next year and most of them centered around my home life:
I want to be more patient. I want to yell less. (it is excruciatingly embarrassing to admit how much I yell at my kids) I want to serve more AND with a better attitude. I want to take better care of the house God has blessed me with. I want to give MORE of my time to my husband and my children. I want to give LESS of my time to social media and the modern day drug that is on-demand streaming (ahem, Netflix).
Like most years, as my list of self improvements grew, so did my anxiety. These are BIG heart issues, Amy. How are you going to accomplish this? When are you going to find the time? Where are you going to find the drive and the motivation? As my list and questions grew, and after a mild panic attack, I took these desires to the Bible. What does the Bible say on how to be a better mother? A better spouse? A better runner? What does God say about becoming more like Him?
And the more I read, and thought and prayed, the more I realized how misled my desires were.
God doesn't want me to be a better mother.
He doesn't want me to be more patient or to yell less. He doesn't want me to serve more. He doesn't want me to be healthier or exercise more.
God wants me to love Him.
Now, before you stop reading or messaging me all the verses in the Bible about treating our bodies as temples, loving our children and being a better wife (hello Proverbs 31), hear me out.
Matthew 22:35-40 says,
In case you didn't notice, that encompasses our entire being.
expresses the purest, noblest form of love, which is volitionally driven, not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship...agapaō expresses the ideal kind of love, that which is exercised by the will rather than emotion, not determined by the beauty or desirability of the object, but by the noble intention of the one who loves." So, Jesus is not talking about a Nicholas Sparks kind of love here. He is talking about a real love. A love that requires us to sacrifice every part of ourselves.
But here is the grand finale "On these two commandments DEPEND all the Law and the Prophets." Why is loving the Lord the greatest commandment? Because all other commandments DEPEND on it. We cannot love our neighbor, or our children, or our spouses, and definitely not our enemies unless we first love God. Why? Because God is love. His perfect nature defines love. And therefore, without knowing God and loving God, we cannot keep his commandments.
Can those who do not know and love God still adhere to laws and commandments? Technically, yes. The Pharisees, mentioned in the passage above, were some of the religious Jewish leaders of Jesus' time known for their devout practice of righteousness and adherence to the Old Testament law. However, these practices were only external and they ultimately became the worst persecutors of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13 says,
So yes, we can externally follow laws and commandments. But without love, without God, we are nothing and we gain nothing. Obeying God demands an internal righteousness.
At the end of Matthew 19, after being asked what good one must do to achieve eternal life, Jesus responds "“There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” Further down, after hearing all that following God requires, the disciples (like anyone would) get greatly overwhelmed:
"When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
And jumping to the gospel of John chapter 14, Jesus expounds on this:
"15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
In this verse, Jesus is not saying keep my commandments AND love me. He is saying love me and keep my commandments. Loving Jesus is not meant to be another commandment thrown on top of all everything else. It is meant to be the ultimate commandment that enables us to keep all his other commandments. Jesus does not expect us to be able to keep all of his commandments on our own, he even agrees that it is impossible.
But with God, knowing and loving him, it is possible.
So no, God doesn't ultimate want me to be a better mother, spouse, daughter, or friend. God doesn't ultimately want me to be healthier or more physically fit. He doesn't even ultimately want me to read the Bible more or pray more.
God wants me to love Him.
And in loving God, and through loving God, we will keep his commandments.
So this new year, we all only need one resolution: Love God.
Want to be healthier? Love God. And in loving God, I guarantee you will treasure the body he has blessed you with and will desire to treat it with respect.
Want to stop yelling at your children (raises hand)? Love God. And in loving God, He will give you the power and desire to love your children in the way that He loves His.
Want to pray more or spend more time in scripture? LOVE GOD. And in loving God, He will awaken in you an unquenchable desire to know Him more and a steadfast heart of discipline to spend more time with Him.
If we love the Lord we can be better mothers, spouses, friends, employees, and people.
If we love the Lord we can have more, do more, and be more.
IF we love the Lord.
So this new year, lets love the Lord. And in turn, love ourselves, our children, our husbands, our friends, and our enemies, well.