Full Service Westside

January is usually one of those let-down months after all the excitement at the end of the year. But one January tradition always fascinates me, New Year’s resolutions. In my own case, it’s usually this week of January when any new leaf that I’ve decided to turn over falls flat. It is striking how many of us, in the glow of a new beginning in a New Year, have big ambitions to change our lives for the better. There is an open secret about resolutions that we all know; most of ours are doomed to failure.
Why is this? I think the answer lies in human nature. Most of the time, we human beings overestimate our ability to make changes by relying on willpower. “I’ll just decide to eat healthier this year,” a lot of us say. For a while, we do. But then – if you’re like me – something stressful happens at work or in your personal life, and your willpower is depleted. When we’re depleted, that’s when we turn to things that give us comfort. It’s a natural urge, but one that often gets us in trouble if we overindulge. If you’re like me, you don’t just slip up a little bit either – there’s a little voice that says, “if you’ve already eaten one donut, then another wouldn’t be that big of a deal…” And then I am off to the races.
In the church this tendency has long been known. Saint Paul himself told us, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I don’t do, and what I hate is instead what I do” (Romans 7:15). Paul believed that this is why divine grace is so important, because none of us can ever live into the life that we’re meant to have without God’s help. Another insight long held by the church is this– it’s not enough to know that we need to change. It’s not enough to say that you’re going to have willpower to change. It takes the discipline to keep the goal in the very forefront of our minds; it also requires accountability and a change in our routines. With food, sometimes it’s as simple as not keeping stuff in our houses that we know we can’t resist. With bigger temptations, sometimes it takes being a part of a community that brings out the best in us.
I hope January is a time of rich transformation for you. (I also hope that you have more willpower than I typically do!) If you are looking to grow into a person that’s overflowing with abundant life, I highly recommend finding a welcoming community. None of us has enough willpower to make all the changes we need. If you’re looking for like-minded people who are trying to grow, I bet there’s a church just down the road from you that would love to get to know you, whether you are disciplined or (like St. Paul and me) trying to get there, one day at a time.

Full Service Westside