A Resolution I Can Keep

December 31, 2010

I really dislike New Year’s Day.

Today is just great.  I’ll be partying tonight.  Tomorrow, I’ll awaken in a groggy, crusty-eyed stupor, with the haunting realization that all the fun is over.

Which is fine.  I get to get the worst day of the year over with right off the bat.  I don’t know what it is that makes the day depressing.  Putting away the Christmas decorations is kind of a downer I guess.  January is a pretty bleak month.  I’ll try to console myself by going out and eating pancakes, and napping.

But that’s not even the worst part of New Year’s Day.  Read on to see why this day draws my ire so much.

Resolution to suck less

Americans must have pretty low self esteem, because we are all about self-improvement.  We just can’t ever be good enough, smart enough, sexy enough.  Many of us will try to reshape our lumpy bodies and personalities through New Year’s resolutions. 

Of course, it’s no secret that the thing Americans are worst at is keeping resolutions.  We are no better, smarter, sexier or less lumpy in any way than we were a year ago.  But do you know how much money we waste on our good intentions to lose weight with home gyms and health club memberships?  Twelve billion bucks a year.  That’s a whole industry thriving not what on we will do, but what we think we’ll do.

Somehow, the yearly ritualized fail-festival just doesn’t appeal to me.

Sermon number 348 on self improvement

Of course, there’s a lot of churches where you can go and get a self-improvment pep-talk every week.  If you can just harness the power of “positive thinking,” then you can be all you want to be!  Really?  First of all, it’s a proven fact that a healthy (emphasis on word “healthy”) dose of pessimism helps people not be completely gullible chumps in life.  So here’s a resolution: harness the power of negative thinking, and save the money you’re about to plunk down for that exercise bike.  You are now less poor because of my one step self-improvement plan, and being less poor feels better than being more poor and still out of shape.

Second, if self-improvement is what Christianity is all about, then why couldn’t even Paul get his act together and stop, as he puts it, “doing things he doesn’t want to do?”  Now, Paul isn’t specific about where he lacks willpower, but if you read between the lines, it’s pretty clear that Paul had a problem with gorging himself on pork rinds while watching Three’s Company marathons.  I know he wasn’t the most positive thinking guy, so maybe that held him back, but come on, if anyone should’ve been able to improve himself, it’s Paul.

I don’t want to improve myself

Sure, we all have room for improvement.  And being sincere in your faith can help you.  But if making yourself a better person is what church and Jesus is all about, (and a lot of us seem to think so), that’s the most self-centered religion I’ve ever heard of.  Our God isn’t Jesus, it’s ourselves…yet again.  What do you know, I’ve managed to make myself the center of the world again, through the completely innocent and humble sounding premise of “improving” myself.

Besides that, Paul proves that a lot of our “self-improvement” is out of our hands.  We have great intentions, we just don’t follow through.  When Jesus says to be perfect, or Paul says to be like Jesus, they aren’t telling us to do things that we have any ability to do.  Even asking God to “show me how” to be a better man is probably a pretty worthless prayer.  Because God’s going to show me the answer, and I’m going to choose to sit on the couch instead and be same old Matt.  I’d probably get more results out of prescription medication.  Don’t look at me like that.  You’ve done it too.  I’ve got to ask God to just make me a better man, because I’m not going to want to on my own.

I’ve got a lot to look forward to this coming year.  It’s just that very little of it has to do with what I will accomplish.

I hope you have a great New Year’s and have a lot to look forward to, as I do.  Do you have any resolutions?  Are you a good resolution keeper?  How are you celebrating the New Year?

25 responses to A Resolution I Can Keep

  1. Ah, Matt, Matt. The Christmas season did not start until Christmas Day. Remember the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas?” That means trees go up on Christmas Eve and come down on Epiphany, oops, that would be January 6th. hehehe

    Happy New Year my favorite blogging buddy!

  2. I make no resolutions but instead try to live consistently all year. As for celebrating? I am going to live high this year. My wife and I are going to play our Wii game and duke it out.

  3. Well, we are just going to stay home and out of the line of fire for the all the amateurs who think they can drive drunk. We’ll have some hor dourves and probably call it a night about 10 as we usually do.

    I used to do resolutions, but crises never happens on Jan 1st, so I quit drinking on October 25th 1980, and I quit smoking on April 14th, 1994.

    This year I am going to make a resolution. I’ll be reading the Bible through in a year. This time it will be The Message (have already done the KJV, ASB, NKJ, NIV, AMP, LIV, and the RSV). I read the Bible just about every day, but it is always in the context of my blog, or some teaching I am doing – or I am bored during the sermon.

    I am looking forward to some things for this calendar year. I will be teaching a class at church, working on finishing and editing my books, planning a mission trip (Brazil?), answered prayers, spending time with my wife and kids, recording a new CD, and hopefully finding a job where i can work from home!

    Happy New Year, Matt. Thanks for all you do out here in the blog-o-sphere, I always look forward to what you have to say!
    David recently posted..2010 Reviewed in Bumper Stickers – Theres No Better Way to Say It!

    • That’s a fantastic goal. I’m actually exciting to read my Bible again, since my wife got me a Kindle for Christmas. It was one of the first things I downloaded. Plus, I can highlight the verses of importance and make notes rather than writing in a Bible.

  4. I’m not going to lie to you, Matt, I’ve got a few New Year’s Resolutions. I’m going to try to memorize more scripture using a NavPress app on my phone, going to try and lose weight (I know, right?), and some other things.

    You know something that New Year’s resolutions teach us? Like the law, they teach us that we can’t do it without the Blood of Christ. So while I can’t say, “God, make me better (I’ve prayed that one too before),” I can know that I will never be better without him.
    Dan Smith recently posted..A New Years Resolution you can Keep

  5. New Year has already passed here. I was planning to go to one of the big celebrations in a nearby city but as it was going to be 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) so I decided it would be better to stay home in the cool. Unfortunately the airconditioner broke so I ended up sitting alone at home in the heat.

    Haven’t settled on new years resolutions yet apart from the obligatory “loose weight”
    Joanna recently posted..New year musings

    • We had 42*C here (down near Geelong), but it was cool enough at 9.30pm to light a fire outside (in an enclosed ‘lantern’, wind had dropped and no fire danger). Sorry you ended up in the heat alone.

  6. A couple years back I resolved to be more intentional. It has stuck. This applies to everything and is more of a way of life than a resolution. Since, I have completed two triathlons, a 10k, and a mud run. I have changed over to more natural cooking and intentionally avoid HFCS, and genetically modified oils. I can still lose 5 pounds like every other woman in the US, I can still eat better, workout more… but it’s just about putting thought into the choices I make on a daily basis. I think this year I am going to put my focus into family and really try to be present for the people I love. Happy New Year!

  7. My resolutions are always the same: lose weight and keep breathing. I’m good at the second one, not so much with the first.
    seekingpastor recently posted..I Stink and a Few Other Christmas Lessons

  8. We live in a resort town where traffic is insane over holidays. We won’t be going anywhere tonight!

    I don’t do “resolutions” so much as i strive to be more consistent and organized with my life.

    I decided this year that i’m really “done” with the holidays as they are celebrated. I’m not going to spend next Christmas trying to do gifts for the 14 nieces and nephews. Instead, i’m going to plan a project a month, something simple, and do it with the intent of sending it during the 12 days of Christmas (today is the 7th day). This way i can plan/prepare/celebrate Christmas all year and not have the craziness of the holidays as they are currently being done in our family.
    Kathryn recently posted..On the 5th Day of Christmas

  9. You know, for someone I hold in such high esteem, I expect more accuracy from you. I’m almost tempted to remove you from my top bloggers of the year listing.

    Everyone knows Paul was addicted to Saved By The Bell, not Three’s Company.

    As for goals for next year, I have a few that I’ll be blogging about on a new website. :)
    Jason recently posted..See you next year…

  10. Great post! Living surrounded by Mormon’s, who live in a somewhat works-based faith, self improvement is a big thing. In the past few years, I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I can do nothing in improving myself so that this year, my focus will be on continuously praying that God will change me from the inside out (“help me in my unbelief!”) in a couple of areas: praying more and playing more with my kids, who are growing up too fast, laughing at the daily frustrations rather than getting upset at things over which I have no control, and eating less (because that is a required resolution as an American).

  11. I make my resolutions on my birthday each year. It seems less arbitrary than January 1 (and I explain why on my current blog posting). And as several people have already noted, I cannot in my own flesh do much to improve myself at all. Still, it’s good to set goals and pray that God will work in certain areas.

    One of my resolutions this year is to read everything you post on your blog. Thanks for making at least one resolution easy to keep!

    For the rest of my thoughts, I wrote about “Resolutions Fail” last January, at http://blogs.icta.net/mom/2010/01/resolutions-fail/.

  12. I’m not making a resolution. No sense in making one because the chances of keeping it aren’t very high.
    bman recently posted..A Typical Non-Alcoholic New Years Eve

  13. Why should I improve my self?
    It’s other people who need improving. Why else evangelize?
    Have you noticed–the aliens keep abducting the wrong people!
    Happy New Year, Matt.

  14. Great post Matt. Especially liked your last section and in response the only resolution I think I try woring on is to become less self-centered and more ‘other’ focused.
    Blessings.

  15. This year I am going to learn to play the didgeridoo. I heard it helps with snoring. I would also LOVE to take drum lessons sometime this year. I had a rough December with some weird things happening to my body that flattened me for 3 weeks. Now, I am almost back to normal but I REALLY appreciate an uneventful day now. I want to make better use of those. I want to be a whole lot more intentional in letting my Savior know how much I appreciate Him. I want to enjoy each day to the fullest. That is really my new resolution – not because it is a new year, but because I can function, I can breathe, I can move, I can love and I can let others know how much they mean to me…….often.

  16. Great post. I am not much into the resolutions thing either. I just tell people I am going to try to be a better human than I was last year. I guess that is a resolution of sorts, but really it does not take much to succeed in it. So I guess possibly that just means I set a really low bar for myself.
    Jason recently posted..Brad Stine

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Taya Carter, Matt Miles and Matt Appling. Matt Appling said: If the apostle Paul couldn't improve himself through positive thinking, why do we think we'd be able to? http://wp.me/pSZSu-ox […]