It was the second day of the New Year and I had already blown it. You know what I mean— the resolutions. And while I’m not one to really make resolutions, (I usually choose a word to be my focus for the year.) I can’t help but feel the fresh start that the New Year represents.
But not even two, full measly days in and Old Leah showed up. I blew all the smoke, and angry hollered about all the things, and cried all the ugly tears, and scarred all the children for life I was just pretty sure.
I should have called it a win that neither Caleb nor I could remember the last time Old Leah visited. But I was still so mad at myself! For one thing, January 2nd had to be an all-time low. I usually make it at least a week or two before I fall so miserably off course. Plus, I thought I was better! I thought I was past this sort of thing! I thought New Leah had finally arrived and was here to stay.
And that’s exactly where I went wrong, of course— thinking I was better, past, arrived. Somewhere, deep down, I must think that eventually, I’ll no longer need grace. That some day, God and I will have successfully worked Him right out of a job in my life. Why do I keep treating Christianity like a self-improvement plan? It’s not about self-sufficiency, but utter dependency. The goal isn’t to need Jesus less but to ever increasingly become more and more aware of just how fully and completely we have always needed, need this moment, and will always need Jesus.
And here’s the crazy part— God actually wants us to need him. I only have three people who need me, and I cannot possibly fathom this. (And also, what does it say about my mothering that I keep trying to get them to need me less?)
So the grace of the whole miserable thing was the reminder of exactly what will never ever change no matter whatever else does— I need Jesus.
It’s all too easy to get lazy and start to coast on previous grace and previous growth. We forget how desperate we really are for God. Worse, it’s all too easy to get cocky and start to think our growth is from our own effort. We decide we don’t really need Him. Sin is so pervasive— not even our gratitude is immune to it. What starts as gratitude so quickly turns to sloth or pride.
It’s a discipline to stay desperate for Jesus.
I think what I’m realizing is that I only get better to the degree that Christ-in-me gets bigger. There is no Better Leah without Bigger Jesus. It’s not me that’s growing as much as Christ growing in me. Spiritual growth is turning over more and more space to Christ-in-me because Christ will always take up as much space as I give Him.
So, if you don’t want to blow your resolutions this year (or, if, like me, you already have, but you don’t want to wait until next the New Year to saddle back up), there’s only one way to do it: don’t make it your goal to keep resolutions, but to keep needing Jesus. You aren’t possibly able to keep your resolutions in the first place, which is why most people don’t even make them. But this alternative— of never taking inventory of your life or setting goals— isn’t any better; just the other side of the same coin.
There’s only one way to succeed at New Year’s Resolutions— don’t keep them, but offer them. Make them your prayer, a place for Jesus-in-you to grow, a discipline of dependence.