Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ten Resolutions for Life

A few years ago, around the beginning of the year, I found myself thinking about the custom of making New Year's resolutions. As everyone knows, the one thing which can be safely predicted is that such resolutions will usually be broken before several months have passed. (There are exceptions, of course, but I suspect that the exceptions are in the minority.)

I had heard (probably while watching a TV news show) that the tradition of making such resolutions started with the Babylonians. Those familiar with the Old Testament know what God thought of Babylon. The city was regarded as one which was built on evil and on a rejection of God's moral law. Historians tell us that the ancient land of Babylon is now Iraq, a nation with which Americans are now very familiar. In the light of history, it's hardly surprising that our attempt to bring the virtues of democracy to that land has met with such resistance.

As I contemplated the ungodly origins of the tradition of New Year's resolutions, I decided that it made more sense to make resolutions which would guide and direct me for the rest of my life. I decided that I wanted those resolutions to be based on my Christian beliefs.

Perhaps you will benefit by reading those resolutions, so I am presenting them here for your consideration.

© Mark Pettigrew
  1. I will begin and end every day by expressing gratitude to God for my life --- not only with respect to those things in my life which I deem good, but also with respect to the bad things which nevertheless help to shape my character and make me into the person He wants me to be.
  2. I will not derive my sense of personal identity from the flawed perceptions of other fallible human beings, or from my own fallible comparisons between myself and other human beings who may have life callings which differ from my own. Instead, I will seek to derive my sense of personal identity from my real identity in the eyes of God, who has created me in His image, and who loved me so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that I might be saved.
  3. I will try every day to life a life which honors God, by obeying His commandments (even when doing so is costly to me), and by seeking the genuine welfare of others above my own temporary personal pleasures. I will seek to live according to the Golden Rule, by treating others as I would wish to be treated.
  4. I will seek to fully use the talents, skills and abilities God has given to me in order to make the world a better place. However, when temporary circumstances (including the unjust acts of others) prevent me from being able to fully utilize particular talents, I will remind myself that God sees and knows all, and that He is a just God who never expects us to exceed our own capabilities. I will make the most of the opportunities and resources which have been given to me, even when those opportunities and resources are more limited than I would prefer.
  5. I will remind myself daily that even though there is no guarantee that I will be protected from trials and tribulations, God can be trusted to take care of my fundamental material, emotional and spiritual needs. In times of stress, when fear threatens to overwhelm me, I will cry out to Him for help, rather than finding comfort in drugs and other forms of escapism which offer no real solution.
  6. I will try to develop and maintain a lifestyle which is conducive to good physical health, but I will place a higher priority on my spiritual health, since one's body dies, whereas one's spirit is eternal.
  7. I will stay in touch with my emotions, but I will seek to control my emotions rather than being controlled by those emotions.
  8. I will seek to grow and improve every day, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, in order to make the most of the limited time I have been given on this earth. I will seek to spend a minimal amount of time in activities which are frivolous and unproductive.
  9. I will treat my life with the seriousness it deserves, but I will also seek to maintain a sense of humor, and to keep things in their proper perspective by reminding myself that I am but one among billions of people, all of whom have needs and desires which are as legitimate as my own.
  10. When I fail --- and I very likely will, since I am a fallible human being --- I will not use that failure as an excuse for giving up or for beating up on myself. Instead, I will humbly acknowledge my failure, and I will ask forgiveness from God and from any people I may have wronged. Having done so, I will then resume my efforts to stay true to my original commitments.

The above list is far from perfect, but I think it's a pretty good starting point.

Perhaps it will be useful to you, too.

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