A little bit of poking around on the internet revealed that instead of writing a long list of resolutions that would soon either be discarded or cause the resolver to experience the agony of defeat, people were simply choosing ONE word.
Last year, my word was "sink". I wanted to give up striving to do my best when it meant running roughshod over my family. I wanted to sink into Jesus, into rest, into BEING instead of doing. I'm actually amazed at how many times my one word popped into my head, especially when I was under stress and feeling overwhelmed. Sink was a good word for 2013.
The word I have chosen for 2014 is LOVE.
It's an attribute of God. The two greatest commandments speak of love - loving God and loving neighbour. When we love, we reflect God, the God Who is Love. Little children learn that love is "doing what's best for the other person". That means it is other-centered rather than self-centered, and it takes effort, not just emotion.
What does love look like?
One of the basic counselling questions I learned when I took Biblical Counselling courses was just that: What does love look like? In the situation you're experiencing, what is the best thing you can do or be to demonstrate love to God and love to others?
Love doesn't always look kind. Love can seem harsh. I vividly remember standing outside the special care nursery watching a highly trained nurse pick up a baby and turn him upside down, pounding his little back. Bystanders were aghast, not aware that the nurse was saving the baby from choking. It didn't look very nice, but in that case, that's what love looked like.
My son has been banned from electronics this week, because I am training him to be responsible, to keep his room clean, and to pick up after himself. He's not happy with the ban, as he delights in playing Minecraft with his nephew over the internet. However, in this case, this is what love looks like.
Love takes courage.
It's not easy to love. It's far easier to think of self than of others. Our sin nature assures that we'll put self first, every time, unless we are filled with the Spirit. Jon Bloom of Desiring God Ministries wrote about the courage it takes to love God and neighbour:
"But let’s also be clear: making love our aim in 2014 will demand more courage and faith than any other resolution we can make. Nothing exposes the depth of our sin like really seeking to love God with our entire being and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27)."
I'm planning to revisit his blog and put the suggestions into practice.
Lord, I pray, teach me to love. Make this year, 2014, the year of LOVE for me. Help me to love You more, to love Your people more, and to love the family You have blessed me so abundantly with. Teach me to ask myself what love looks like in each and every situation. When trials come, teach me to love. When joys overflow, teach me to love. When I go to church or jot a few lines or make homemade soup, may I do it with love. Fill me with You, Oh Lord, for You alone are truly LOVE. Make me more like You, I pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.