New Year Resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions: to make them or not to make them? The dilemma of this annual ritual, at least for me, remembers the glories and follies of hope. New Year is a moment of looking forward, of imagining things anew, of committing ourselves to a grander vision of life. It is also a time of weariness and cynicism, at least for those of us who made resolutions in the past and forgot or failed them. “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other,” quips Oscar Wilde. Mark Twain adds,

New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

If statistics tell us that 97 percent of New Year’s resolutions are never fulfilled, my cynical side tells me not to bother with them.[1] I’ve made resolutions in years past already, earnestly and thoughtfully, but by mid-January I had forgotten them already. The grander plans and hoped-for breakthroughs felt distant in the trenches of routine life. Pressing urges got my attention, and I lost sight of my year-long vision.

There is just one single element that prompts me to return to the notepad with something for 2017. I know there is someone who will keep his resolutions this year. Remarkably, and without fail. Right on target. Right on time. All of it. He has not failed for a long time. He was there when I needed to open my heart and receive hope. He was there to hear my confession of sin. He was there also with the party cake ready when a good friend embraced grace for the first time. He kept his resolutions, down from last January and indeed from the beginning of time, and I have all certainty that in 2017 he will do the same.

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So, even though I may forget any good intention or plan, and may be tempted not to bother, God’s resolutions give me hope. I will forget and mess up and get lost and despair this year, and January expectations will not carry me through. But if God will be faithful by April 4th and will remain so on August 29th, and also on the late hours of December 2nd, and if I will be a recipient of this steady faithfulness, maybe this year can be better than the last, and my resolutions may amount to something. Maybe I can grow a bit kinder, a bit holier, a bit steadier. Maybe I can be lifted up when at the point of despair, when I see God marching forward with the vigour of January optimism. Maybe when I remember God I can be refreshed like by a New Year party, full of fireworks and friends and countdowns, for God will be ever fresh, ever youthful and hopeful, and I get a chance to start anew, even late on in the year.

René Breuel


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