It was a fitting question to ponder in the last hours of a hellish, long, year. 2013 was quite the bully--it snatched many loved ones too early, chased others with crippling mental illnesses, robbed families of financial security and created pathways to pit people against each other. Good riddance to you, 2013.
But when a year like this one passes through our lives there is always an opportunity to put personal pride on the altar. Treading water in emotionally murky times led me to 12 Step--not as an addict, but someone who sought enlightenment and learning. The first three principles were like life vests, thrown out at me from people who had lived dozens of 2013s.
- We admitted we were powerless over our addictions—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I needed a power greater than me to help me out. And I would ALWAYS need that help.
My only sane choice was to surrender my life to God. And that would ALWAYS be the only sane choice.
To me, these three steps echoed the mission of the Godhead; the Holy Spirit enlightens my mind to my reality, Jesus Christ makes it possible for me to tap into a power great than myself, and God the Father takes care of me when I let Him.
I had been taught my entire life that in coming to accept Jesus Christ in my life I would be shown my weaknesses - and in that process - I could become humble. And the more I could accept, and use my weaknesses to lean on Christ, the more Christ would strengthen those weaknesses (NOT take them away, but make them work for me.)
I used to believe my critical thinking was a weakness; an embarrassing, frustrating cloud of negativity that spun around me and caused me a lot of anger. While others could seemingly float around seeing the good in everything, I was always so painfully aware of what was wrong with everything. Daily I would resolve to be different, to think more cheerfully, stop the first fruits of critical thoughts before they could harvest, banish anything that wasn't "uplifting" or "positive."
But in surrendering this "weakness" to God, I found it was actually a gift. Critical thinking helped me reevaluate destructive ideas, question standards and abolish hurtful traditions. If I used it to judge ideas NOT people, it could help others and end suffering. Now, I feel like it's a positive, vital experience in my life. Some days my critical thinking does run wild, and I try to remain aware, but I see now how resolving to ban it entirely would've robbed me of opportunity to do much good.
So what do I think of resolutions? Mostly, I think resolutions are just another manifestation of our desire to control our own lives--to help us think we're more powerful than we really are. I think a lot of times we put on our resolution list things that would feed our pride rather than make us genuinely better.
For instance, a huge percent of us are resolving to change our bodies this year (a USA Poll showed 87% of women put "lose weight" as their number one 2014 resolution) and many of us will spend time, effort and money on achieving this goal. Only, diets don't work, and the failure of them hurts us and spins us into a trail of shame. If all the resources spent on forcing our bodies to look different were instead expended on loving our bodies (AS THEY ARE) we'd save a tremendous amount of money, time and energy. Being unhappy with ourselves and our bodies starves us of almost all other virtues.
This past year taught me that there are only two great resolutions: 1. Acknowledge God, asking daily to feel the power of something greater than you. 2. Let EVERYTHING else go.
So last night when the clock ticked midnight and my whole house was sleeping, I peeked out the window to see a sparkling, gold firework explode in the air across the valley. I said my farewell to 2013 and surrendered myself to whatever 2014 has in store.
What else can you do?