Do any of your houses look like mine right now? What about your waistline?
As I look around the wreckage the holidays made of my home and my body, there is just one thing I can do:
Make a LIST.
Oh, this has been my coping mechanism for years, dating all the way back to middle school when, in scented marker, I’d check off “wake up” and “get dressed” in my day planner as my mom discreetly monitored me for OCD.
And this is Peak Season for list making, where gluttony and regret meet the promise of redemption in the New Year, so I suspect I’m not the only one who’s tempted to craft an elaborate Resolution List that will, in one sheet of paper (or tabbed spreadsheet, in my case. I’m not kidding) turn us into sainted, organized millionaire triathletes by year’s end.
A list that we know, even now, will be forgotten by January 10th.
Why? Because it’s built on guilt, reaction, and anxiety – things God never wanted us to have- and isn’t based on what every single one of us truly wants and needs in our lives:
Love, Peace, and Joy.
That’s what we’re all trying to achieve. That’s what we are all called to spread. That’s the only New Year’s Resolution we will ever need.
If we simply resolve to pursue Love, Peace, and Joy, it can guide us in everything that we do, every instant of the day. Will buying this thing bring peace in a month (when I get the bill)? Will this career choice bring me and my family the most joy? Am I paying attention to the things I love? Am I going to feel joy after smoking this cigarette/saying the words on the tip of my tongue/cheating this one time/skipping my workout…
If we are tempted to do anything that does not spread love, joy, or peace in ourselves or others, it’s not worth doing. Period.
There’s another way this Resolution can revolutionize our upcoming year. We can learn to recognize the opportunities to experience peace, love, and joy in our everyday tasks. Instead of “having” to clean up the house, we can appreciate it as an act of peace. Cooking dinner becomes a conscious act of love. We will find joy in countless small moments that otherwise would have gone underappreciated or squandered.
So, if we do this correctly, we can experience love, peace, and joy…the ultimate happiness…100% of the time.
Is this really realistic?
Yes. In fact, it’s been promised to us:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27)
“This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
None of these verses says that love, peace, and joy are things we need to work for to achieve…they are gifts already given to us. We just need to recognize them, appreciate them, and use them.
And look for them in the right place:
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
This is where everything we need and want comes from, and where it’s being handed out freely. God is just asking us to recognize, appreciate, and use Him and His power.
And if we did that, what couldn’t we accomplish this year?
So look up from the list, look above the clutter, and put your eyes on the ultimate prize: Love, Joy, and Peace for yourself, your family, and your world.
If we all work toward that together, we know that in everything, God will be for us, so who can be against us?
May God give you abundant love, joy, and peace in 2012. Happy New Year!