New Year’s resolutions can be good. They motivate. They’re a plan for doing better in the future. They can be a great way to set healthy habits and help you become the new you this year.
New Year’s resolutions can also be a huge guilt trip. They can set you up for unrealistic expectations of a new you who’s healthier, who makes better choices, sets better habits, and is a whole lot happier.
But you know how this can go. You’re not always healthier. You end up making some dumb choices. You slip back into bad habits. And by the time the next year comes around again, you’re not any happier than you were a year ago.
I’m not sure if you’re making a New Year’s resolution this year or not. It can be really good if you do and stick with it. But for those who have their hopes set on being a totally new person this year and for those of you who might find yourselves in a huge guilt trip in a month or so if you don’t live up to the New Year’s resolution expectations, can I offer a little encouragement?
You won’t always be the new you. This stinks, but it’s reality. We’re human, and flawed humans at that. It’d be great if we could just will ourselves into being new and better, but it doesn’t work that way. We’ll still have plenty of times when the old self inside (that we don’t like) comes back to ruin our resolutions and makes us feel like a bunch of failures. Knowing this ahead of time helps check our expectations. We’re flawed, and we won’t always be the new, better versions of ourselves that we might envision.
God won’t change or be something new. This is awesome. We might struggle with the old and new us, but God doesn’t. He doesn’t change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. Which means he’s solid, dependable, and reliable. He won’t mess up. He won’t let us down. This year won’t bring a new God who suddenly can’t keep his promises or fails to be our Savior. This is huge. We might be flawed and weak, but we don’t need to lose hope. God’s bigger. He’s stronger. He’s got us. And that won’t change.
God’s mercies are new every morning. Each new morning of 2020 might not bring a totally new you that you love. But each new morning of 2020 will bring God’s mercies that are new with each sunrise. He still smiles on us. He still forgives us. He still provides for our daily needs. He still cares deeply about us. He still loves us, even when we slip into the same old self.
This year whether you make resolutions or not, you can rely on something old that’s new again today. God’s “compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22,23).
Kurt Wetzel is a pastor at Cross of Christ in Boise and Nampa, Idaho. He and his wife, Stephanie, have four children. This year he is resolved to get to know God better. That’s it.