As our calendars turn from 2020 to 2021, some of us will commit to starting new things. Healthier eating, regular exercise, pursuing a degree, praying regularly, or simply adjusting our attitude.
Others will resolve to stop something that diminishes their lives. They’ll quit smoking, cut down on the alcohol, or curb their time on social media.
Most New Year’s resolutions involve starting or stopping, and many of those resolutions aim at shaping us into a better version of ourselves. There’s not the first thing wrong with seeking to expand our knowledge, to take better care of our bodies, or to engage in meaningful spiritual practices.
But if we’re doing any of these things in order to make us into a better version of ourselves, then it might be best for us to ask a question before we get going. Why? Why are we setting out on what appears to be a program of self-improvement?
If your goal is to make yourself lovable, respectable, valuable, or acceptable to others, stop. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Other people’s applause will not make your life meaningful. At least, not for long. It will just make you anxious. Your self-worth will depend upon the shifting and unpredictable whim of others’ approval.
Besides, applause always fades. So you’ll be driven to climb back on the stage over and over to get another round of it. That is simply exhausting.
Let’s assume that you couldn’t care less about what others think of you. There’s still a bit of self-examination to do. Are you starting something new or stopping that old pattern to make yourself more acceptable to ………….. you?
I’m not sure where I first heard this, but it makes a lot of sense to me. If you can’t love yourself at your current weight, there’s not much chance that you’ll love yourself when you’re ten pounds lighter. This lesson about dieting goes for pretty much every other self-improvement program.
Look, I’m not saying that you should blow off your doctor’s or priest’s or friend’s or mother’s or trainer’s advice. It’s your motivation I’m urging you to check out.
You see, if your principle challenge is that you can’t accept yourself—you can’t love yourself—just as you are, no amount of personal redecorating will get you there.
Conditional love is conditional love. It always puts a trapdoor under your feet. You’re just saying to yourself, “I’ll love you if and so long as…” In other words, the emotional floor could always open up beneath you.
I’m not so sure that I have an answer to this for everybody. But I’m a Jesus-follower. This is what he teaches and it works for me.
Start with this. “I’m not perfect.” And really mean it.
Admit that you’ve gotten things wrong. Hurt people. Damaged yourself. Sometimes you did that with good intentions or without even realizing it. At other times you knew exactly what you were doing.
Admit that you don’t know everything. You’ve been wrong. You’re probably wrong about important things right now.
Admit that you grow irritated around some people. Deep down, you know it’s about you and not about them. But you don’t always act on that.
Okay. Say it with me. Not at my urging, but at Jesus’s own invitation. “I’m not perfect.”
Now the paradoxical thing about saying this at Jesus’s invitation is that, well, Jesus is already right there with you issuing the invitation. And he’s not going anywhere no matter what.
Jesus, you see, is God with us. Love in the flesh. Love has come to us before we even admit that we’re imperfect. That’s unconditional love.
Jesus teaches us that we discover the depths of his love for us precisely when we admit that we are not perfect. His love for us is gift. Pure gift. Not a reward.
We begin to own ourselves as the Beloved by accepting ourselves as imperfect.
So, that’s my unusual resolution. I will seek to admit that I am imperfect.
Sure, I’m going to try to exercise more regularly. Pray with greater depth. And read a few more serious books than I did last year.
But I won’t be doing any of this stuff to make myself more acceptable to myself or to anyone else. Just like you, I am already loved.
Well said, my friend! Happy New Year!
Happy New Year brother!
Sounds good, however, I’m gonna keep on reading all my British murder mysteries! Ok, maybe I’ll read Amy Jill’s latest..
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! And Amy Jill certainly works for me
Fabulous “unusual resolution” Jake! I’m saying it with you .. “I’m [also] not perfect”.
Loved this, featured on biblegateway.com when I went a few minutes ago:
“Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;”
-from Isaiah 43:16. ~Happy New Year~
Happy New Year to you Liz! I believe we’re a year apart for a few hours. Is that right?
Yes that’s true. I’ve just looked it up and in NZ it’s now 10.36am 01 Jan and you’re mid-afternoon 31 Dec. You won’t get to 01 Jan until we’re 7.00pm here in NZ! Isn’t that hard case?
Outstanding , Bishop Jake. Surely there isn’t a living person who doesn’t almost or probably comes to tears of relief as they are reminded of God’s unconditional love, when reading this. Thank you. Best message I’ve heard from a pulpit in a long time.
Thanks Liz. Happy New Year
Right there with you, my friend… I am not perfect, but I am beloved. A good thing to remember… and to remember that the applause always fades. Happy New Year to you and Joy!
This was spot on for me, Bishop Jake. So simple, so clear, and so hard to remember at times. Thank and Happy 2021!
Perfect in our imperfection
I have morbid obesity. Due to thyroid issues and Pecos. I’ve lost 96 so far. Praise God. I’m so thankful for this blessing. God took my cravings away. If I don’t need it I don’t eat it. This is my testimony. I’m so thankful for my healthier life. God’s peace. Thank you so much for your blogs. They are very inspiring and helpful. God’s peace. I get in the scooter at the store because of a back injury. I’ve been asked why. I just explain that I got hurt when I was 25. Lifting a patient. I’m now 62 and very thankful for our blessings. God’s peace.
Bless you, Kathy. Thank you for reading so faithfully. May 2021 be a year blessings and holy surprises!
It’s a blessing to be more healthy. God’s peace.
Pcos cysts on my ovaries.
Prayers for you my friend.
Thank you. God is so good.