I am one of the 8%. No, that’s not some new-fangled financial classification; it’s the percentage of people who keep their New Year’s resolutions according to Forbes Media. I haven’t kept every one perfectly, but I do prayerfully make them each year, and it’s amazing how much I’ve learned along the way. My resolutions run the gamut from not texting while driving to reading the Bible in a year to never defending myself (now, that’s an eye-opener). This year I’m making 2018 a year of gratitude.
By now you’ve certainly heard about the physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. But here’s one benefit that Psychology Today won’t be listing in their top seven: gratitude is worship. It is one of the primary ways we are to be reminded of and to relate to our loving God who gives us every good gift. Want to be more connected to the Lord? Let your needs drive you to Him and let your blessings draw you to Him
My pastor talked about resolutions this morning; that’s how I learned I’m in the 8%. And one thing he stressed was that making or keeping a New Year’s resolution doesn’t earn you anything; not favor or affirmation or forgiveness or salvation from God. In fact, it can become a stumbling block if you are making it for any of those reasons. Everything we do should be motivated by love – for God and man, including our attempts at self-improvement. If I look a little more like Jesus at the end of this experiment, if my spirit becomes a bit more thankful, that is my loving obedience and a sacrifice of praise.
I know I should be grateful for every breath I take, but as with anything that is continual, gratitude can become invisible, banal, even boring. Therefore, I’m going to keep a gratitude journal. There are many ways to do this, and I will let you Google them for yourself, but I’m going to keep one online that I share with a friend. I am also going to write a line or two every single day. I know myself, and those things will help me keep up.
Here are a few tips for you to consider as you think about the topic of resolutions.
- Make your resolution simple. It should be able to be stated in one sentence and you are more likely to keep it if it doesn’t require major changes to your routines.
- Make a commitment to your resolution. Make sure it’s something you believe in and really want to make a part of your life going forward.
- Track your progress. Have some way of noting your success. Mark it on a calendar, keep a log, put a chart on your refrigerator.
- Invite others to share your resolution. See? I’m taking my own advice. God gave us community for accountability and encouragement. Take advantage of that.
- View your failures as part of your success. If you don’t keep your resolution perfectly, don’t quit! In fact, you haven’t really owned a new habit until you can fail and get back on track again.
We always pray for you, that our God … may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:11-12)
To that end, if you are one of the 60% of Americans who doesn’t already have a New Year’s resolution, I invite you to join me in making 2018 a year of gratitude.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal (Crosswalk)
Ann Voskamp Audio on Gratitude
A Prayer of Gratitude by Scotty Smith