Ah, the beginning of another year. Another reminder that we’re getting older. Another moment of reconciliation with the bathroom scale. Another revisit to the unresolved issues from last year, and the year before that, and the…well, you get the idea. It’s no wonder some of us battle with a mood of depression after the holidays. Yet, despite the possible negative side of starting a new year, it offers plenty of fresh optimism as well. A new page free from the doodles and spills life offered last year. A reason to start over and make changes. This is why so many of us make resolutions year after year.
What is a resolution, and why did I hyphenate it in the title? I don’t typically read Webster’s dictionary for recreation, but I pulled it off the shelf to get a new perspective on New Years resolutions. Did you know there are nineteen definitions of the word? A resolution can be a determination or a sense of purpose. It can mean to make up one’s mind. It’s also a firm decision to do something, such as, “I am determined to lose thirty pounds this year.” Or, it can be used to describe the quality of a picture, as in screen resolution relating to pixels and other technical computer jargon. It also means to reduce by mental analysis, as in what I might unfortunately do to my husband during occasional “discussions”. Finally, it can mean an answer to a problem—a solution.
Obviously, I sensed your stifled yawns after reading the word “dictionary” and I paraphrased a little. After studying all of the definitions, I like to think of a resolution as a re-solution. A new fix for an old problem. I spelled the word with the hyphen to emphasize the prefix “re,” which indicates something that we do again. A re-solution simply means to solve again. Isn’t that what we do every New Years? We look at our problems and look for new perspectives. So why is it that at the end of each year we look back and discover that only a handful of our resolutions have been fulfilled? Perhaps it is because we do not continue to seek re-solutions throughout the year. Our quality of life suffers because we do not translate our resolutions from thoughts on paper into actions.
If you have made resolutions this year, it’s important to revisit them daily. What actions can you do today that will resolve the struggles you had yesterday? Regardless of whether your resolutions relate to eating better, losing weight, getting in shape, getting organized, remembering birthdays, improving family communication, or paying off debt, each requires a daily solution.
Scripture reminds us of the need for daily renewal. Jesus says in Luke 9:23 that we are to take up our crosses daily. He didn’t simply say that we are take up our cross, as in a one-time action. Instead, he asks us to take it up daily. Having lived on earth for over thirty years, he surely observed how quickly our habits disintegrate. The prophet writes in Lamentations of God’s new daily mercy (Lam. 3:23). There is such peace in knowing God offers us a chance to start over every day.
After considering what it takes to fulfill the resolutions we make each January, I’ll offer my own blended version of a definition. Re-solutions (rē-sō-loo-shuns): developing a sense of purpose and determination to have the best possible quality of life through a daily decision to solve problems repeatedly.
This article appeared in my January 2008 Wisconsin Christan News Column. Yep, I’m still re-solving every year. Not with resolutions, but with recommitting to my desire to live as God wants me to live.