It’s January. That means everyone is making new year’s resolutions. The kind that last for a month, maybe two, and then fade into the fog of everyday life. As in the gym is jam packed for one month–and one month only– kind of resolutions. (Seriously, ever tried to get a treadmill at the gym in January?) Everyone is going to exercise, eat better, watch less TV, drink more water, read more. You name it. I’ve never really believed in new year’s resolutions for that exact reason, I just disappoint and annoy myself when I can’t keep up with my own expectations of myself. Ha. Now that’s never good for the ego.
But really, I often wonder if those resolutions might disguise a desperate search for a fresh start, a struggle to be freed from, well, at least parts of, this life. The “I need to get my act together so I’ll start with the outside, not the inside” theory. Or the “I will be a better person next year because I know there is something missing” attitude. But then the next new year rolls around, and nothing has changed. Sound familiar?
Do you ever sit back and watch people? I don’t mean the “oh that’s a bad outfit” kind of people watching. I mean the really sit back and watch people kind. What they are searching for. What they are pursuing. Where they are rushing. What their stories are. How they have handled the hurt in life. How they have loved. How they have lost. How they have found contentment. Or have they? So often I fear it is an empty pursuit. A pursuit of what? It’s the aimless hope that more money, another relationship, new possessions, or the fulfillment of dreams can satisfy. Take almost any mainstream music ever created–it’s about the pursuit of a love yet to be found, a love lost, a life desired, or just having fun. It’s about blocking out the current state of life and searching for what we want out of this life, typically the life we don’t have. I’ve totally been there. Haven’t you? It’s easy to identify with the music.
Once again, however, I’ve discovered beauty amidst this potentially threatening and self absorbed thinking. So much of life is an oxymoron, and this is no exception. It can be summed up in one sentence. You must lose your life to find it. (Matthew 10: 39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:25.) That sentence does not say chase after your life to find it. It does not say your life will be better as soon as you have everything you want. It does not say some superficial new year’s resolutions that focus on the external (not the internal) will make anything better. It does not mean chasing after your own happiness or things that you think you need or want is the answer. It says lose your life. It means lay down your life and desires. It means understanding life is not about you. (Ya, really.) Seek after Jesus Christ with the entirety of your life first and foremost, most importantly in your heart, desires, and actions. Understand what it means to want what Christ wants–what His plan is–for your life, not what you want, or think you want. And then embrace that in every facet of life. Lay down your life plan, let go of your desires. Accept that His are far better. Pray that He will use you for His purposes. And then give of yourself–volunteer, mentor, serve, forgo the new shirt and write a check to feed a hungry child for a week. Make a difference in someone’s life. Make your life count. Seek after your relationship with Christ and fall in love with Him; and then seek after anything that glorifies Him, not yourself. That is fulfillment. That is what life’s all about. As soon as we understand that, everything starts to make sense. And I promise it works.
What if all it takes to get our life together is to cease striving after problems and desires, and to simply be still and know that He is God? To really attempt to glimpse who God is. Happiness does not come by seeking it, but by seeking outside yourself, outside your life. AND THEN a profound sense of purpose, a profound sense of love that will never fail surfaces, and then rewards you, not only with happiness, but with deep unabashed joy.
I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and have always desired to “lose my life.” But this year, new light has been shed on the concept. So this is my new year’s resolution: to lose my life. And to me that means letting go of the life I have planned, how I think my life should be going, or what I think I deserve. That’s when frustration, anger, tension, and unhappiness disappear, because the life I’ve been given is right where Christ wants me, it’s His perfect plan for my life. It may not necessarily be what I think I want, but it ends up being exactly what I need, and thus what I actually do want, because He knows me better than I know myself. Now that’s beautiful.
This year, may we lose our lives. May He become greater and we become less. Pursue things worthy of pursuit. That means Jesus Christ and anything that glorifies Him. Keep life in perspective. You may need to pay a visit to the hospital or jail to keep life in perspective for you, but just do it. And you know what? As my heart and attitude were becoming right, everything else began to fall into place–as in I got my life together, because my head was in the right place. My priorities fell right into place behind the most important priority. And it turns out, because of that, I ended up accomplishing all those typical superficial new year’s resolutions anyway without any real struggle. Because transformation starts with the inside. It starts with understanding what your priorities are, what life is all about, embracing that, and learning to live in the grace of it. When you focus on the life you have (not the one you think you want) you wish to make the most of this very moment! I organized my life. I joined the 6:00 a.m. club (don’t laugh, it means I wake up at 6:00 am or 6:20 every morning) to start my day off right in the Word, in prayer, and unrushed. I am volunteering, I’m exercising regularly, I’m saving up for a missions trip. And I’ve never been happier.
It comes natural when I understand this world is not meant to be sought after, and most certainly not chased after, but to enjoy the present and merely look forward to the future–God’s plan for the future. When I finally understand it’s about letting go, investing in my relationship with my Savior and with other people, and then trusting that this, right here, right now is perfect, and that ultimately, my future is completely taken care of, that leads to an unrivaled contentment, peace, and joy. You have to deal with the inside before you can deal with the outside, and then everything will fall into place. There is one thing, and one thing only worthy of my pursuit. To lose my life for the sake of Jesus Christ. That’s the oxymoron of life. That’s a true new year’s resolution; the only one that will actually make a difference. I dare you to embrace it.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable
explanation is that we were made for another world.”
― C.S. Lewis