December 30, 2014

Writing Resolutions: Yes? No?

As the end of the year approaches I’ve been thinking about resolutions. What do I want my year to look like? Where do I want to be at the end of 2015?

I like the practice of coming up with New Years’ resolutions. Setting goals and evaluating where I am and what I can do better is a helpful exercise. These resolutions also give me the illusion of control, that I can take my life into my own hands and remake myself. It's just a matter of willpower. 

Or is it? I recently came across this quote by Wendell Berry: “Let tomorrow come tomorrow. Not by your will is the house carried through the night.” Jesus, likewise, reminds us no to “worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.” 

These are not simply exhortations, “not to worry.” They are also reminders of how little control I have over the future. Illness, economy, weather, community—all these things move us in one direction or another and are beyond our control.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t made some resolutions for the coming year. I hope to write more, respond to email a little more consistently, and exercise more regularly. I do what I can in the areas I can control. Even in those areas, I often need help. 

I’m not naturally a disciplined person. Left to my own devices I tend to eat too much peanut butter and jelly and avoid the gym. My wife has helped me with this. She doesn't watch over me, but she cares about my health, and so I try to act healthier for both of us. 

Our lives are not our own. Not completely, anyway. We hold each other up, we make each other better. 

So yes, I have my resolutions. I hope to improve myself. But more importantly, I hope to look outward more, to love my neighbor as myself. To seek to understand more than to be understood, to console rather than be consoled, to love rather than to be loved. 

The number of things I can control is small. The number of people I can love and lives I can touch is much larger. 

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