How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Feeling guilty yet? The excesses of the holidays make clear the need to evaluate many aspects of our lives and resolve to change them.
In February we realize how idealistic we were on the first day of a new year. What’s so obvious it hurts is that we haven’t limited our good intentions to one or two gentle self-improvements, but tried to remake the whole of our little world. Does the Lord chide us for thinking so much of ourselves that we can change our bad habits by sheer willpower? How many of those resolutions did he inspire? Aren’t the few he gave us the habits that we successfully change?
The Lord impresses me as a loving guide, not a finger-pointing judge constantly pinging us on our human failures. He put his unselfish love in our hearts. We have the privilege of nurturing it and sharing it with his people. The other-centered desires that he puts in our hearts are not difficult to attain, for he gives us all we need to fulfill them.
Valentines, not resolutions
He wants valentines, not resolutions. He wants us to change our lives in response to our love for him. Of all the improvements we could consider, he wants us to ask him what he wants to be improved. He wants us to change for his sake, for love of him.
Resolutions based on the ideals of the world, to be skinnier, more attractive or more fashionable aren’t as significant to him as those that make a lasting difference. The Lord sees our attempts to improve. He understands that we do not know ourselves as well as he does.
Change that lasts
He can motivate us to choose the better part, to make time for him. Alone with him, he can inspire resolutions to get our schedules, finances and families in his right order and to help us to live longer and happier lives of serving him. When we ask him, he puts the will and desire in our hearts to change. Then the change will last. I can’t help but think that any lasting changes are not the result of our will power, but side effects of loving him.
Write a valentine to the Lord. Take those resolutions, the ones you are avoiding, and present them to him. Relinquish your ideals of what you should be in the world and let him show you what you can be in him.
His love for us is overwhelming. Let our response be a life given as a valentine expressing our love in return.
What does your valentine to the Lord say to him?
(Copyright © 2013, revised 2017 Nancy Ward)