My New Year’s Resolution

     A few years ago, I ran into a list similar to this one. It spoke to me so deeply, that I quickly adopted it as mine and added my own thoughts. 

  1. Never stop starting over.  God is a God of second chances. I am going to firmly believe that. So, every time I make a mistake, or forget something important, or don’t do as I am suppose to, I am going to forgive myself and start all over. 
  2. Live intentionally, not aimlessly.  Sometimes my life becomes very hectic. At times my priorities become skewed.  Sometimes I spend way too much time doing nothing or worrying about things that are beyond my control.  This year, I will live my life with a purpose. If I lose track on where I am going, I will ask God to teach me how to embrace the journey.  If I don’t know where I am going, I will trust God knows and that will be enough for me.
  3. Never despair whatsoever.  Someone once said, “We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.”  I am a control freak.  When things get out-of-whack I tend to loose focus.  Sometimes anxiety gets the best of me. Sometimes I panic when things don’t go as I have planned.  This year, I will strive to keep my cool, even during those times when it seems the weight of the world is on my shoulders. God has a track record with me. Even in the worst of times, God has been present in my life. It’s time to trust that God is not going to abandon me, ever.
  4. Pray simply, not stupidly.  I waste too much time attempting to tell God how to act.  I said before, I am a control freak and that sometimes includes attempting to exert control on what God is doing in my life.  Those of you who have watched me work know I am very organized and that I love to plan well in advance.  The problem is that sometimes I spend an enormous amount of time trying to convince God on what is the best plan of action.  This year, however, I will endeavor to simply present to God my needs, wants and dreams and then let God do whatever God wants to do with them. I will continue planning ahead. Trusting God does not mean I will not do my part. The difference is that I will listen more carefully as my plans develop or fail, as a way to discern which way I should go.
  5. Renounce all self-justification.  This is a tough one.  Sometimes, I waste too much time in my attempts to justify my actions.  Excuses abound, especially when I have done something wrong.  This year I will work on assuming more responsibility for my choices in life. When I do something right and am recognized for it, I will just say, “Thank you.” When I miss the mark and get called on the carpet, I will say “I am sorry” and then will make sure I don’t repeat the same mistake, again and again.
  6. Stop judging others.  Another hard one.  Judging others is so easy, for it makes me look much better than the person being judged.  It is easier to point the finger at someone else than to look at my own behavior.  See, when I highlight what is wrong with another person I am making sure the attention is being placed on the person being judged and not on me.  This year I intend to accept others as they are. I will treat others with grace as God treats me.  I will love others unconditionally, as God loves me.  I will allow others to have second chances, as God allows me to have second chances.  I will especially work hard at loving my enemies and forgiving those who have caused me great pain.  Above all, I will stop judging myself.
  7. Wait.  I am very impulsive, so working on this one is quite a challenge.  This year, I will breathe deeply before I speak, and will be patient with myself and with others.  I want to learn to live one day at a time. I want to enjoy each day. I want to learn the spiritual discipline of waiting.
  8. Acknowledge my brokenness.  This one is closely related to self-justification.  Since I don’t want others to see my brokenness I spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to cover it up. This year I will acknowledge that through God’s immeasurable grace, I am a broken vessel, a wounded healer, a discouraged encourager, a forgiven sinner.  In doing so, I will let others know that God’s grace is also for them, and like me, they can still turn their brokenness around and start walking the path God has laid out for them.
  9. Be ruthlessly realistic.  The older I get, the less romantic about my future I become. In his Life Cycle Theory, Erik Erickson states that at age 50, men realize that most of the dreams they dreamt about in their twenties and thirties will never come to fruition. This is the reason, he says, why many men in their fifties become depressed. The answer to the depression, according to Erickson, is to immerse oneself in the wisdom acquired during those years and share that wisdom with others.  I will be 55 this year. At my age I have accomplished much, so I believe the chances of me becoming seriously depressed are very small. The truth is that I have fulfilled most of my dreams and I will be content if the rest of my dreams are not fulfilled. As I have grown older, I have come to understand that my dreams do not need to come to fruition for me to find happiness. So, this year, I will begin by being realistic. However, I will never give up hope.
  10. Always think good of everyone. I want people to think good of me.  For that reason, I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  I will only change my relationship with others when they prove otherwise.  Once again, God is the God of second chances, so why not give others a second chance.  That doesn’t mean I will be naïve and let others take advantage of me. It means they will be worth my goodness until they prove me wrong.
  11. Read the obituaries.  They remind me that I am but a traveler on a short journey. One day, my journey on this earth will end.  In the meantime, I will do everything in my power and in God’s grace to make it count for something.

As we enter a brand new year, may our faith be renewed and invigorated.   May we come to the understanding that God’s presence is already at hand, however small and little, although we may not yet see the outcome.  And may our New Year’s resolutions reflect our desire to become the person God wants us to be.

Happy New Year!

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About pastorfelix

Conference Minister, United Church of Christ, Southern California Nevada Conference
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6 Responses to My New Year’s Resolution

  1. Thanks, Felix. Words to live by.

  2. Jaime says:

    Thanks for these points. I appreciate our transparency and intentionality. Peace.

  3. Patty Bender says:

    Hi Felix, I was so glad to read your blog. As always, you give me things to think about. I gave up making resolutions; I rely more on a daily look at my life and actions to remind me about God’s presence in my life. It works better for me that way.
    I hope things are going well for you. I miss your work here, but there are ways to move forward which I must honor. I have a great desire to see the church grow and be stable while I’m here to celebrate it, but “it ain’t easy.”
    I’m planning to attend you installation. I should be a great celebration.
    Give my regards to Sheri. Blessings to both of you for a joyous 2011.

    Patty

  4. Carol says:

    Happy New Year, Felix,
    Thank you for the words of wisdom and encouragement. You’ve once again blessed me with words – a litany – to live by. Tears are filling my eyes as I reflect on the words I’ve just read and relate them to my own life.
    How blessed I am to have you as my pastor and friend. Wherever you are; wherever I am, you will always be (one of) my pastor(s). You are truly a “Spiritual Leader”. I thank God for you.
    Continued blessings for you & your family.

  5. judith sandven says:

    I just printed your resolution list for my refrigerator, to look at frequently and to remind me to be mindful of my thoughts and actions. Thank you for this posting and thanks for visiting us at MHUCC on Sunday.

  6. Paul Clay says:

    During worship at Hillcrest on January 9, I shared an abbreviated version of your list. I let them know it was from our wonderful new Conference Minister. It was well recieved; two or three members requested copies! Thanks.

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