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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Be it Resolved

Last week’s post concerned Christmas Eve—when many of us celebrate a sacred event, while this week we take special note of a secular moment in time, New Year’s Eve. It is also the time when many people look at the past with a mixture of fond remembrance and in some instances, regret about things done and things left undone. Those regrets often lead us to make resolutions—a kind of promise to ourselves, that in the year to come we will do the things we said we would and not do those we shouldn’t.

Psychologists tell us that resolutions rarely work beyond the first few days or weeks. All too often, we don’t give up smoking, lose weight, drink less, spend more time with our loved ones or any of the other things we earnestly desire to do and know we should. It’s not that we intentionally renege on our promise, but somehow life overtakes us and our will is weakened bit by bit until we have excused our lapses with justifications and scourged ourselves with accompanying guilt. This seems a silly game to play and yet year after year we do it believing that this time it will be different.

Maybe you aren’t given to resolutions—good for you. But I would hazard the guess that resolution or not you have found yourself facing down something in your life you are not happy about but seem incapable of changing. Why is it so hard to change?

You won’t be surprised to learn I have a thought about this and yes, it does involve God and our relationship with him and others in our lives. I have written before that we have a tendency to carry along with us a weighty bit of luggage filled with guilt, fear, mistrust and many other negative feelings. None of these things are real of course, but we endow them with the substance that gives them their weight and in turn they anchor us to our past in an endless cycle of dejection, depression and defeat. No one and nothing forces us to carry this sack of pain around with us, it is all a choice we make, consciously or otherwise.

The only way we can ever leave this weight behind is to literally let go of that past. We need to start clean without the baggage and live in today, this moment. It is easier said than done, but there are many signposts pointing the way to how it is done; how it is possible to give up the old and become new. One of these is found in the gospel of Matthew. In it a woman is convinced that if she could only touch the cloak that Jesus wears she will be cured of disease and her life will be made over. Indeed, this is just what happens—she manages to push through the throng crowded around Jesus and touch his garment. Feeling her presence, he turns and tells her that she should not be ashamed of what she has done but in fact she is now free, she is made new.

Before the term became associated with a particular political perspective the idea of being made new, literally born again, described the transformative process that occurs when we let go of ourselves, our cares, worries and regrets and turn to God, accepting forgiveness for all that we have done and unconditional love for ourselves and all humanity. People who have experienced this transformation will tell you that it is unlike anything they have ever felt before. And once experienced there is no turning back, God is firmly and forever established in your life as your sovereign guide and defender.

This is not a strictly Christian concept but can be found in every religion and spiritual philosophy. Letting go of ourselves, taking our egos and our very human frailties and placing them aside allows us to free ourselves from the chains of the past. It lets us put the past exactly where it belongs—in the past, and focuses our attention on the now.

So, whether you subscribe to any faith or are simply searching for inner peace, and freedom of mind and spirit, my proposal to you on this day is to forget about resolutions but do this one thing. Let go. Let go of your past, let go of yourself, so that you can find a new self, a better self, worthy of all that you dreamed of being. Let yourself be born again and experience everything through fresh eyes without the fear, judgment and pain of the past weighing you down. If you try this I can promise you one thing. You will walk through this world with a new confidence in the providential nature of your life. You will be forever changed.

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