I’ve not really thought much of New Year’s resolutions in the past. They’re often not worth the time to think them up. I come up with them, usually two or three days after the new year, as an afterthought. I think, “Oh, shoot! I forgot to do a New Year’s resolution!,” as if it’s only valid if I begin it ON New Year’s Day, and not two days later. At that point, I either jettison the idea altogether, thinking, “oh, well, it’s January 3rd—my window has closed.” Or, I hastily come up with something like, “I’ll eat better” or “I’ll get to bed earlier”, which lasts just as long as it takes for that first late-night project to come down the pike (or is it, “the pipe?”) or that first one of my wife’s chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven, piping hot and smelling awesome. So, I haven’t really had much use for resolutions, frankly.
Except this year. It’s probably just that I’m getting more reflective and older, but I’m beginning to appreciate the value of the resolution. The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a really, really good time to reflect on what went well and what did not—Was I holier this year than last? Was I more joyful? If so, did I reflect that joy in my dealings with other people? Was I more selfless last year, or did I just carry over the same old me from the year before? Would my wife, or my kids, or my co-workers say I was more conformed to the image of Christ this year than last? In what ways did God use life’s little pains and injustices to beat some of the old man out of me, and did I really thank God for those things, or just gripe about them while they were happening? How am I going to change how I think or how I live, in order to practice “teaching Jesus” and “life as worship” better?
Have you asked yourself those questions, or questions like them? Losing weight would be awesome (assuming you genuinely need to lose it, and it’s about your health, rather than your identity), but what if we worked on transforming our character this year? What if next Christmas, we could say that we were more humble, less angry, or more patient than the year before? I’ll take that over ten fewer pounds, any day (and, they’re not mutually exclusive, you know).
So, as I’ve been thinking about it, here’s what I’m working toward. And, I’m going to share it with you because I want you to help hold me accountable. Ever since I heard Maggie Jackson, author of “Distracted” speak in October, I’ve been thinking about how my life is one big distraction. So many things to do, so much technology around me, so many deadlines, so many distractions—when I’m talking directly to people, I’m not always “in the moment” with them. I’m thinking about something I have to get out that day, or something I have going on that evening, or the frustrating phone call I just had, or the email or text I just received. Very rarely am I looking them in the eye and giving them every ounce of my energy, my concentration, my self. They usually get about 50 to 70 percent.
That’s really selfish. I think most of the time, people can see right through that. Even though I do it subconsciously, I think it communicates that whatever else I have going on is more important than they. It really, really grieves me to think that I might make someone who wants to talk to me, spend time with me, or seek my help feel that way. I repent of that. I’m going to do it differently this year, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to be fully “in the moment” with the people I’m with at that moment. They’re getting my undivided attention, all of me (they might actually find it kind of creepy and disconcerting at first, compared to what they’re used to, but I think they’ll eventually like it).
So, if we’re talking this year and you see me looking down at my cellphone, please just say to me, “in the moment, Jay.” I would really appreciate it. And, if you don’t get a response to your text or email or call within 2.3 milliseconds from the minute you sent it, please don’t be frustrated with me. Please know that I’m “in the moment” with someone else, and you’re going to get 100 percent of my attention in a little while, whether you want it or not. If I can do that, I think I’ll better communicate the value and worth that I really feel towards you, but I don’t always show.
So, that’s me. How are you going to be transformed in 2014?