New beginnings meet old Habits

Happy New Year to all!

Just checking in to greet everyone and tenderly address the topic of New Year’s Resolutions. To resolve or not to resolve, that IS the question! At least it’s the question of the week.

Here’s the rub, I have managed to come up with a highly organized list of home, health, relational, and lifestyle improvements. I should also admit that I have some fairly sophisticated strategies on how to get those improvements underway. The problem is, I’m not quite feeling the motivation to take those all important first steps. ¬†If I make a resolution without the motivation, I’m doomed to failure. If I let my lack of motivation lead, I fail for not even trying. As my hockey-minded husband would say – (paraphrasing the Great Wayne Gretzky) “The only shot you are guaranteed to miss is the one you do not take.” That may be true, but I’m a bit disillusioned on whether or not I have enough strength to launch that puck all the way to the goal. You see, I’ve come up short a few times. And that can be embarrassing.

So, I think what I really need to do is just surrender. And believe me, there is a difference between “surrender” and “quitting”.

Surrendering to Whom?

You see, when I think of “quitting” it brings to mind the idea of dropping a task, as if it were an object of burden, and walking away. The burden lays abandoned on the ground. It still exists, it still longs for completion. Meanwhile, I have just averted my attention to something else and left the burden in a neglectful way.

When I think of “surrendering” there is another Being involved. And it’s not just any person, it’s someone who wants to be involved. For instance, say I’m bearing a burden and I come into contact with another person. If I drop my burden at their feet, I’m not surrendering it to them, for they have no attachment to it and could simply walk away. It’s still mine. But, if I come along to someone and they indicate that they want to lift this burden from my shoulders and take it as their own, I have to choose what to do. I can say “no”, and keep bearing that burden, or I can accept their offer and “surrender” my burden to them.

Now, here is where it gets interesting. Because, there are some burdens that simply can not be detached from me. I can surrender a pile of unused clothes or items cluttering my house, and never will have to think of them again. But I cannot merely detach from myself such things as: my current state of physical fitness, my poorly managed nutritional habits, or my strong inclinations to waste my free time on social media. These internal realities are mine to keep and to deal with. So, instead of surrendering them, I have to submit myself to someone whose guidance would help me to improve these realities. And, I better be sure that this Being is someone who can be trusted to bear up under these burdens. Also, this Being had better be someone who has my best interests in mind. Hmmm… who could it be.

It’s almost too simple, isn’t it?

For fear of inciting the easy “Sunday-School” answer (“Jesus”), I will share the following invitation made by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (11:28):

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

 Trading a burden for a Yoke

Did you catch that? Yes, Jesus, offers to help us with our burden. We place His yoke (think of that big wooden thing an oxen wears, when he is dragging a cart or “burden” around) upon our shoulders so that we are reigned into His leadership. Then, His yoke distributes the weight of the burden in such a way that it is able to be carried. We then make forward progress together.

Now, that helps us to understand that when it comes to Jesus, surrendering is a good thing. It actually brings God’s help into the situation. Where as before, it was just up to me and my lonely old resolutions. My weak will power battling old in-grained habits. Man, that’s a battle I’m not sure I even want to bother with. I know I’ll lose.

But, how does bearing a yoke under Christ’s lead bring change? I think we should take a little closer look at that verse, and see if we can get some clues. Let’s chew on it a little bit more and I’ll share my response back here soon.

Feel free to share your thoughts! And I’d love to hear how you answer the question: “To resolve or not to resolve?”

 

 

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