Faith is not my New Year’s Resolution…
Can you feel that? A new year is coming….
For some a new year begins with fireworks of excitement and possibility, for others in nervous twitches, and sometimes it simply arrives deadpan expecting us to know what to do with it.
Whatever way it arrives most of the time a new year is accompanied by New Year’s resolutions. Today and tonight these resolutions are being written in journals, typed in ‘notes’ apps, conceived in daydreams, splashed over social media and quietly acknowledged in hopes and prayers.
I’ll tell you something though – this new year, my faith is not among my New Year’s resolutions.
Faith is not my New Year’s resolution
Resolutions are often spoken of as the shunning of the bad. The giving up of what is making me a less pleasing version of myself – a one time absolute commitment to self improvement – a way to get over the habits that irritate my sense of self assuredness.
You know the resolutions I’m talking about: Quit sugar, be active, sleep more, talk less, talk more, budget better, pay bills on time, return emails, don’t fare evade, actually wear from the wardrobe and not the washing basket, embrace your potential, be braver, don’t leave dishes in the sink…and the list goes on.
Perhaps you make lists like this too; loose weight, gain muscle, learn a language, practice your scales, don’t exceed the speed limit…too often, stop procrastinating, submit your assignments early, finish what you start, get your grades up, call your mum, maybe even reading the bible, going to church and prayer get on your list?
The thing is, my 2018 list looks a lot like my 2017 list, which, you guessed it, looks a lot like my 2016 list…
These lists, the way I write them – you’d think I had a magical ability to simply ‘be better’ than I am. To affect permanently positive change instantly. To work harder, think smarter, to behave more like an angel and less like my broken self. Gosh, no wonder my New Year’s resolutions rarely work out.
They rarely work out because I appear to make them for someone I’m not – I make them for the idealised me who once she’s resolved these issues would find every item on the list a walk in the park to achieve – but here’s the thing, I’m not her yet, and I may never be her…instead I’m still me.
Me – a caffeine addict who bites her finger nails, doesn’t sleep much, possibly works too hard and is hoping nobody figures out that I’m not as smart as they think I am. I’m just me…and the just me right now isn’t capable of all of those acts of self improvement, not all at once.
It’s not because I’m a weakling, though I readily confess to weakness, no it’s because resolving something implies a problem – and resolutions about me and my life often make me feel that I am a problem (not that I have problems, but that I am a problem)…too real? Yeh, been there friend.
Join me in some pontificating: Resolution – to be resolved- is to unchangingly settle the matter – that’s what resolute means. Our top definitions include the following:
- the quality of being firmly determined and unchanged
- the action of solving a problem or contentious matter
- the eradication of outlying properties that are unsettling to the whole (ouch!)
But faith – and my relationship with God and His story – the most precious aspect of my identity and self understanding – I’m never going to resolve that.
To resolve faith would be to limit faith. It would propagate the lie that I possess faith like a skill that can be mastered. That I walk around with it in varying amounts like cash in my pockets or not in my pockets.
No my friends, I have not mastered faith, it is not steady and unchanging in me. I do not own faith like a product, I do not amass it like wealth or use it as currency to ensure a comfortable social network, faith is not performed like a honed set of skills and it is not a problem for me to solve.
Instead of resolving to have better faith, stronger faith, bigger faith or simply more faith this new year I choose to re-form my faith in 2018.
Not an overhaul as if my current faith is definitionally problematic or insufficient. Rather I choose to continue being an active participant in my relationship with God and other people and therefore growing it, questioning it, inhabiting and dwelling within it, re-forming it, to hold me and who I will be in the new year.
People hear the word reformation and think it means to do away with the old and reinvent it into the new. You can blame poor reformation history for this idea – reforming never seeks to replace ‘what is’ with ‘what will be’.
Instead reformation is to re-negotiate and re-examine, to look again at ‘what is’ in order to understand how and in which direction it is growing and then take steps to decide what it will grow into. Usually this includes returning to the best of what was [re] original and building upon it [form] to move it on, include the new and take it further [a(c)tion]. Re–form-a(c)tion. Reformation.
Sounds good to me.
I am always in need of re-forming because I have a form – a life and identity – an inherently good one – one that I believe delineates my life and my identity as having worth, value, passion and purpose. I have and am this form (settle down Platonists) because I believe that God, whoever He, She or It may be loves me, is made known to me through scripture and community and is always looking for my attention.
This is my life, my identity, my form, this is who I truly am at my most authentic.
Every year I am seeking to examine the life I live, the person I am and am becoming and re-form it so that this original and true form is at the centre, speaking true and the foundations of any decision I make, relationship I inhabit and growth I experience.
Faith is not my New Year’s resolution – it is so much better than that!
Better than resolutions, a new year is the opportunity to choose who I will be and what part my faith will play in who I am becoming.
My faith is a living, growing and maturing story of my relationship with God, with others, and creation embodied in time and space – as such I want to be able to live it for all it is and could be!
I want the opportunity to question
To meet God
To start again
To double back
To look around
To dig deep and unearth the unknown
To develop the unseen
To wander through doubt
To sit quietly
To go slow
To chase down the rabbits
To touch the bottom of the ‘what if’s’ and stand on something solid
To grow things in the soil of pain that make life beautiful
To taste and see God’s goodness in the simple and ordinary
To share my discoveries with others
To be convicted
and to learn to embrace the best of me more than seeking to resolve and extricate the worst of me.
I want my faith to live– to really live! Like actually!!
So I will not seek to resolve my faith as if it were an equation to be balanced or a habit to break.
I will not resolve it as though the love of my life is a sheer act of will and determination to ‘be good’ or ‘be better’.
No, I will commit instead to formation and re-formation in every possible way.
I will embrace the unknown and make smart decisions that allow me to engage the formation and re-forming-action of WHO I AM, WHAT I BELIEVE, WHY I BELIEVE what I do and HOW God and I RELATE to each other.
According to my belief, God knows better than I do, and He knows me better than I do. I want the opportunity for Him and I to re-form our relationship as I grow. I want God to know me, I want to know myself and I want us both to decide together who I am becoming and will be into the future. This is not a resolution – it is my choice to choose faith and its formation and re-formation.
Maybe you can relate to some of this – the resolutions that are well intentioned but don’t actually get to the heart of what’s really going on for you. They don’t honestly address or engage who you are, why you are this way and why you make choices the way you do. They don’t truly give you a meaningful year.
Perhaps you want your faith to thrive, or you know it’s part of the ‘stuff’ you need to get together, maybe you really hope faith is more than a loyalty card you carry in the hopes of redeeming an answered prayer for a car park every now and then.
Or like me you just want more out of your life, SO much more, you want your faith to be alive and living, like actually, and you want it to be meaning-filled and joy-filled
If this is the case and you’re leaning towards forming and re-forming action, building who you are by embracing faith rather than resolving who you are by isolating what you perceive to be wrong with you then I have a proposition for you – why don’t you join me and do what I’m doing this year – we’ll do it together. It’s called NEXT.
NEXT is an epic one year experience that allows us to do just this – spend time forming and re-forming who we are, why we are and what we believe. It is a year where young adults can take themselves seriously and explore
WHO AM I?
WHAT DO I BELIEVE?
WHAT IS MY PURPOSE/VOCATION?
Here’s what you need to know:
Through NEXT’s emphasis on personal coaching, identity formation, values clarification and character development NEXT students can approach their future and self understanding with confidence, conviction and clarity.
NEXT @ a Glance:
- Learning in an established cohort of young adults
- Accredited study towards a Diploma in Theology
- Explore questions of spirituality, identity and theology with skilled and engaging facilitators
- Electives in justice, creative arts, youth work and biblical studies
- Optional integration with an internship or practical missional placement
- Grow through spiritual retreats, camps, festivals, faith practices and personal mentoring and individual coaching
- Fee help available
NEXT offers you an amazing opportunity, the opportunity to stop and intentionally look at who you are and understand how you have been formed to better decide who you want to become. NEXT is the opportunity to navigate the challenges and questions of life, faith and purpose through accredited study with other people just like you.
Until you choose to understand who you are you will always be resolving yourself to fit someone else’s model instead of forming and re-forming yourself to be who God knows you can be. That’s a meaning-filled year. NEXT is an opportunity worth your time and consideration.
Resolutions don’t last – what will do you NEXT?