New Year Resolutions for a Better You
By Kimberly Cotton
If you are anything like me, you’ve spent numerous New Year’s at church or watching the infamous ball drop. I would tell myself that this year would be different. Losing weight, getting a better job, and meeting new people were just a few of my New Year’s resolutions that unfortunately I’d broken by February 1st. However, I decided to approach things differently this year. I couldn’t help but ask myself what would life be like if God created His own resolution list for me? I think it would look something like the following:
Too busy for God? Who ever heard of such a thing? If this were an actual class, I would reluctantly raise my hand and admit that I too have been guilty. For me work, ministry, or relationships have come first. Your distraction, whether it was positive or negative, may have been children, friends and, yes, even ministry. I know that it may be a hard truth to digest, but God desires time with you. While you are busy with everyday life, don’t forget to spend time with the One that allows you to see it each day.
I was so disappointed in myself when I realized that I had been neglecting time with God. Did I need to pray more? Yes. Did I need to fast more? Yes. Did I just simply need to sit still and listen? Absolutely! As the year begins, I know that He wants me to do just that. He is not interested in all of the things done for Him if I neglect Him in the process. God desires to spend time with you as well. There is so much that He wants to say to you. Life isn’t over for you no matter what occurred in 2014. Stop moving and just be still.
I was invited to a church a couple of years ago to speak to their young women. I was so excited, so I began preparing weeks in advance. However when I arrived, I was informed that there had been a change of plans. Instead of a classroom, I would teach in the choir stand. Instead of all girls, boys would be in the class as well. Instead of twenty five minutes, I would now only have fifteen minutes. I was disappointed, but I made the best of it.
During the three-hour drive home, I began whining to God. He quickly put me in my place with the words this is not about you or how you feel. What? No sympathy from God. As the tears began to fall, I edirected my focus to what truly mattered. It was never about the changes I encountered. Life will always have some “inconvenience” thrown at us at times. However, if we are prepared, it will decrease the level of panic. It was never about the assignment. It was always about the souls I encountered. As you walk through life’s unexpected changes, be prepared with prayer knowing that God is still in control. As the year begins, prepare to be more prayerful, prepare to become more organized, prepare to accept (not always enjoy) God’s assignment(s) for you, and prepare to spend more time in the Word. It is the most important meal of the day.
I am not just referring to physical weight. I am referring to emotional weight as well. Millions of people across the country will begin joining gyms trying to shed themselves of Thanksgiving and Christmas pounds. However, we rarely hear about those trying to shed emotional weight in prayer. God wants to help you embrace healthy relationships.
Being healthy requires work and discipline. If you are like me, I’ve lost weight before only to gain it back a month later because I lacked discipline. Work without discipline will always result in achieving the same results, so discipline yourself to become healthy spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically, and financially. Discipline yourself to spend time with God and His Word so that you can face life’s joys and challenges knowing that you are not facing them alone. Attend Bible study. Attend Sunday service. Allow God to lead you to a ministry in which you can serve.
As you discipline yourself spiritually, it is also important that you discipline yourself socially. We’ve all encountered the Debbie Downer, Gossiping Greta, or Negative Nancy to name just a few. While they are still growing in their walk with God, it is important to remove all toxic people from your life. I know it may hurt, but it can also help strengthen the relationship if he or she is willing to change. Toxic individuals don’t mean to be toxic. They’re just often misguided or have been hurt themselves. They can become a drain on your spirit. Pray that God will give you the strength to rid yourself of any toxic or unhealthy relationship. Remember, God will only usher in the new when you remove the old.
Emotional discipline … yes, we have to go there. Everyone does not desire to hurt you. There are still great people in the world. As you remove the toxic people, be prepared to accept new friends that God has designed specifically for you. It may not be what you expect, but just remain open. It is not to say that the relationship will not endure challenges, but it will not alter the friendship. Just remain open and show yourself to be friendly. Yes, people have taken advantage of us all. Yes, people have neglected us. Yes, people have hurt us. However, it is time to close the door on that pity party. Allow God to heal your emotions, so that you can develop healthy relationships with others.
Physical discipline is always the most challenging because it is often a reflection of where we are in other areas of our lives. Discipline yourself to have at least one healthy meal a day. If you are like me, I hate drinking water. So, I discipline myself to drink at least three glasses a day. Yes, I need to do more. That’s why I’m still a work in progress. Try to discipline yourself to complete at least two workouts during the week. No, it will not feel good initially, but it is necessary. You can begin with just a walk. (You may need to check with your doctor to see what’s best for you.)
Financial discipline is also a challenging one. Billions of dollars are spent during the holidays which creates an even larger issue as the new year begins. That issue is debt. Discipline yourself to make smarter choices during the year. Avoid the fancy restaurants if you can’t afford it. Avoid using those dreaded credit cards. As a matter of fact, cut them up. Leave one in case of emergency. Don’t feel you have to “keep up with the Joneses.” I would rather be happy than superficially happy and in debt.
As we approach all of these areas, let’s not forget the bigger picture here. It’s God’s desire that we have the best and we are able to offer His best. He desires to share so much with us this year, so don’t neglect His voice, His time, or His will. He loves you no matter what has occurred. As you begin a new year, focus on His most important resolution which is to be a blessing instead of looking for one. Happy New Year … God Bless you!