When I was in my twenties, I loved setting New Year’s resolutions. The day after Christmas, I would walk through my house and decidedly throw away all the remains of peppermint candies, buy myself a bright outfit for a new kickboxing class that I would never actually attend, spend hours selecting a fresh planner, and dream about all of the ways that I was going to change myself. “Fresh new start and fresh chore chart” was my yearly January motto.
I was just wasting my time.
I am really, really good at the first part, the resolution-making. And I am equally good at resolution breaking. I am the queen of “I’ll start on Monday.” And then Monday comes, and the slightest thing can push me off course: waking up late, a sick kid, my grandma’s cousin’s anniversary, a rainy day, a beautiful day. And before I know it, 52 Mondays pass with only a few pages filled in on my planner, and the guilt of a year of wasted opportunities sets in.
A few years ago, I started the same year-end routine. With a freshly sharpened pencil and a cup of hot tea, I sat down to think about the next year’s resolutions. But that year was different. I had nothing to write down. Ten minutes became two hours and I was coming up blank. Not because I had finally run that 10K or because I actually did become my hygienist’s model patient by flossing my teeth every single day. I couldn’t think of anything because over the course of that year, those things that I elevated so highly, those goals that I believed would be the measure of my success, just felt sort of…small.
You see, that particular year we were walking through a really hard season. God had asked us to enter into brokenness in the foster care system. It felt like we were sitting in the front row of an under-construction roller coaster with no harnesses. I was tired deep in my soul. Of course, I didn’t meet even one of the prior year’s resolutions, because something was unfolding in our lives that required so much more from me than going to the gym every day.
“Resolution” is the noun form of the verb “resolve.” One definition of resolve is to make a firm determination to do something. I didn’t have the energy at that point in my life to make a firm determination to do much. So after a few hours of trying to set some personal goals, I leaned my exhausted heart towards Jesus and asked him what He might want for my year. I waited quietly and expectantly before Him, still hoping for something to write down, but after a while, I finally closed my blank planner. But I closed it with peace. I felt like Jesus had lifted the weight of resolutions from my shoulders. He had reminded me that I was learning a different kind of resolve. Jesus’ resolve.
Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor 15:58
Jesus came to this earth resolved—firmly determined—to love. Firmly determined to bring people to his Father. His steadfast, immovable resolve is for reconciliation and restoration. He was (and still is) firmly determined to get messy and to do the very hardest things.
This year, Together for Good will get phone calls from desperate mothers who need a friend. We will hear from moms who have been fired from a job due to having to call in because of a sick kid. We will hear from women who are experiencing homelessness in a cold Minnesota winter and who just need to find a safe place for their little ones to sleep. We will hear from caseworkers who long to help their clients with whom they have been walking closely. We will get calls from women who can’t go to treatment because they have no one to watch their child. The need for Jesus’s hands and feet to enter into these situations is never-ending and is relentlessly pressing.
What if this year, you made a goal that looks a little bit different?
Jesus often wants us to work on things within ourselves – physical, mental, & emotional health are extremely important. We can’t serve well if we are drained. But what if we also lifted our eyes away from our planners and fixed them on Jesus, actively watching for ways to follow Him in His resolve to reconcile? Could you come up with a goal that might transform not only someone else’s family from the inside out, but your family as well? You could commit to helping keep vulnerable kids out of foster care by making space in your life to come alongside a mom who needs a friend because she is socially isolated. You could make a goal to go to a training or read a book to learn more about poverty or trauma, and the way that these things can impact our children’s schools or our communities. Maybe just talking to your spouse about hosting children feels scary. Maybe saying yes to hosting a child even one weekend a month is a huge step of faith. In 2020, could you resolve to take just one step towards helping families in crisis, whatever that step is, and trust that the Lord will lead you forward?
These kinds of goals can’t be measured in a way that pounds on a scale can be measured. They don’t look like a freshly organized closet, and they maybe won’t feel as satisfying as finally having every single piece of paperwork in the correct file folder. There is no box to check or item to cross off a list. In fact, the outcome of resolving to follow Jesus into the messy work of sacrificial love is completely immeasurable. And these immeasurable goals have the most significant impact of all.
Katie Brown, TFG Advocate