As the New Year approached and last year was coming to a close, I thought and thought, and thought some more, about what I wanted to change in my life. What could I improve about myself? What do I need to be better at?
Several things flooded my mind as I brainstormed for 2015, and then reflected on 2014. But nothing really resonated with the desires of my heart. Some ideas were vain, some not quite the right timing (truly not, that isn’t just a copout), and some made it plain obvious that my brain was just trying to muster something up to scribble down on a “New Years Resolution for 2015” list.
As I prayed and spent some time reading, it occurred to me that my life had more potential for joy. Not because circumstances could be better, or because of something someone else was responsible for, or because I feel I am lacking in anything tangible, but because I don’t spend enough time being thankful.
That’s when I decided to spend 2015 in gratitude.
And then after spending a year being intentional about it every single day, for 365 days, my hope and prayer is that being thankful would become a habit and a lifestyle – a permanent one. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. That’s approximately 17.38 times the amount of time I am setting for myself to achieve this goal. I figure that’s reasonable, since old habits such as complaining, or selfishness, or criticizing others will be constant temptations as long as I – we – are humans formed from flesh, blood, and dust. In fact, I am positive that it will not take the year of 2015, but a lifetime and an unending process until I meet Jesus, to be a grateful person.
Gratitude by definition is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness."It is a state of mind. It is a choice.
Sure, circumstances, Satan, and people will be temptations for me to allow to alter that state of mind, but the Holy Spirit of God inside of me is so much stronger. There will be far more power, and more glory brought to Christ, in my sacrifices of praise (thanking God when it hurts and doesn’t seem like the right response to pain, suffering, and frustrating circumstances in this life), than in my constant focus on what and who needs to change and why.
All of that to say, I’ve still yet to think of a New Years Resolution. And I’ve finally come to peace with the decision that I am not going to make any for 2015, but rather, start this year prayerfully seeking a change of heart and a change of mind. It will take constant prayer, constant correction of perspective, and more perseverance than I have. Thankfully, my hope rests in the grace of a perfect Creator who does not expect perfection, but my dependence on him to complete this work in me.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18