Updated: Sep 29, 2020
| 2019 |
This year, I’m going to exercise more, lose 10 pounds, toss everything that doesn’t “spark joy,” save money, and learn sign language.
According to U.S. News (https://tinyurl.com/ycdqbcn6), around 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. There’s even a National Ditch Your Resolution Day on January 17. We have such good intentions, but we always seem to run out of will-power. Why is that? U.S. News says, “unless you change your mind, don’t expect your health goals to materialize.” They listed some ideas on how to not fall into this gaping statistic:
Develop critical awareness.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like just as much work as any New Year’s resolution I’ve ever come up with. So, what do the self-help books say?
“The truth? You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” “Your life is up to you.” “You have control of your own life.” Girl, Wash Your Face - Rachel Hollis
“Behind every successful person is a relentless work ethic, the ability to block out distractions, and a well-defined six-pack of self-control. Find creative ways to work your self-control and keep making it stronger. Unlike your abs, this muscle needs to be fit even during the winter, so get to work.” “Be forewarned that success isn’t easily obtained. If you want to be a Bawse, you’ll need to hustle. And then hustle harder.” How to be a Bawse - Lilly Singh
“Go easy on yourself because no one else has been. So it’s up to you… That’s the message we receive: YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH… So what to do?... Start to say F**k It to those negative voices and influences. Then the key to healing is in the very phrase ‘self-doubt.’ What’s the opposite of doubt? Trust? So replace self-doubt with self-trust. Start to trust what you feel more. Start to trust what you do IS good enough.” F**k It Therapy: The Profane Way to Profound Happiness - John C. Parkin
So, what I’m understanding is in order to not lose motivation, I need to stay motivated… Lilly Singh said it best: “I guess it takes some self-control to implement self-control.” I can’t be the only one who feels a bit defeated by this concept, right?
Many self-help books have sold-out in bookstores when they first release; some of them you can’t even find in libraries. I don’t go a week without seeing a woman neck deep behind a copy of, “Girl, Wash Your Face.” (Plus, Rachel Hollis and Lilly Singh seem like people who would be super fun to hang out with.) Clearly, these books are intriguing people. And all of these authors have great intentions. Many of them have opened up and become vulnerable with the hopes that their stories will benefit someone. A lot of their ideas are thought-provoking, and probably very beneficial to their readers (especially immediately after finishing the book). But what happens when the words on those pages began to fade from our memories?
What we seek is long-term transformation. We want happiness, contentment, and will-power. Our New Year’s resolutions and the self-help books we gobble up are not so much a solution as they are a mere symptom of an all-consuming contagion to which we’ve all been exposed.
Phew. That was a scary sentence.
In summary, we have no idea what we’re doing, and it shows.
I won’t go as far as to say self-help books get it wrong. I would, however, say they get it almost right. They definitely have the right ideas, but no amount of human motivation can replace or mimic the power of who Jesus called the “Advocate.” In John 14:15-17, Jesus tells his disciples, “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.
I look at the self-help quotes above, and what I see are three different things the authors know we’re longing for: happiness, self-control, and trust/contentment. In Rachel Hollis’ quote, I see she’s prioritizing our happiness. She wants us to take control, to grab life by the reins and live our best lives. In Lilly Singh’s quotes, she values self-control, so much so that she feels it is the only way to success. John C. Parkin’s advice was to trust in yourself; you are good enough, and don’t listen to the naysayers. Follow your heart!
One big thing I’ve learned from reading the Bible is that it contradicts many of our instinctual and cultural beliefs.
We say, “Do whatever makes you happy,” and “Take control of your life!”
Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
We say, “It’s up to you to exercise self-control,” or “Hustle, and then hustle harder.”
Matthew 19:25-26: 25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
We say, “Follow your heart,” and “Trust in yourself.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Instead of creating goals and then searching for ways to achieve them, try allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you in setting your goals. After all, we have found we cannot achieve them on our own; we need help. But we can’t just set any old goal and be like, “Ok God, your turn! Gimme the powaa!” We can’t just expect God to see it through for us. But if the Holy Spirit prompts you toward something, you can count on beauty coming out of it. It may not go exactly the way you would have chosen, but it will be the way God finds it to best fit in his big plan for you. If you approach everything with the mindset of, “All for your glory, God,” he will certainly do good things through you. In Galatians 5:22-23, we find that if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and shape us, and we give God the reins in our lives, we can achieve the very things we’ve been trying to get on our own through New Year’s resolutions and self-help books:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Galatians 5:22-23
Set goals -> Make a plan -> Work REALLY hard -> Success
Know/love/trust God -> Let go of control -> Invite the Holy Spirit into your goal setting -> Seek to listen -> Prayerfully do what he is prompting you to do -> Begin to see the fruits of the Spirit in your life
Except, as with anything, it will never be that simple. God has written all of our stories differently. Your story might not fit on the storyline I just gave; it may be more like: Know, love, trust God -> let go of control -> invite the Holy Spirit’s guidance -> listen, but become hesitant; take back control -> feel another nudge -> realize you’re being silly -> do what God says -> see fruits of the Spirit! -> whoops mistake again, sorry God -> God: “It’s ok. I’ve got you. Try again. I’ll help.” We’re never going to get it right 100% of the time. Just keep trying. Keep pursuing what God has planned for you. If you ask, he will show you. And if you follow the guidance of the Advocate, you will begin to get exactly what it was you were always seeking: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
1“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4
Ashlee is a wife and SAHM, an eager follower of Jesus, and a chronically loud-laugher. She loves finding new ways to look at the Bible, in hopes to grow closer to Jesus and to find fresh ways to learn and teach others.
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