With the beginning of a new year, we often anchor our hope in resolutions and a desire to enjoy a better year. Looking back over 2018, you may have a few regrets. In light of the struggles you’ve faced, you may resolve to do things out of a desire to avoid the negative feelings of the past year.
- If you’ve felt alone, you may resolve to make new or better friends.
- If you’ve been discouraged at your job, you may resolve to work harder or transition to a better job or position.
- If you’ve felt emotionally alone, you may resolve to find someone to love truly.
- If you don’t like your physical condition, you may resolve to get in shape by joining a gym or workout program.
- If you’ve felt spiritually isolated, you may resolve to pray more, or read more, or begin a new spiritual journey.
At the bottom of resolutions like these, there’s a slight foundational problem. Modifying your behavior to run from negative feelings will not create a better 2019. Reactionary changes will only lead to an inflated ego at best and feelings of failure at worst. Even when you’ve accomplished your goals, you may find lingering loneliness when you get what you want. When you focus primarily on your own happiness, it is the one thing you will not be able to secure. So what is the solution? Resolve to give of yourself rather than to yourself. So how can you do this?
- Make time to be with Jesus. If you haven’t heard His voice speak to you recently, then it could indicate your relationship with Him is a shadow of who you think God is rather than in an authentic experience with Him. Are you real with Jesus? Are you allowing Him to be the Lord of your life? Or are you following Him for the fringe benefits of community, eternity and future success? Make time to be with Him. I’m not implying time spent in an academic approach to the scriptural text. I am talking about taking some time to be alone with Him and allowing Him to speak to you. For a little help with this, check out my post on how you can begin spending time with Jesus. https://stephensamuel.org/2018/09/04/when-i-meet-with-god/
- Make time to serve someone. The most satisfying feeling is helping someone who cannot help themselves or help you. Even in your close friendships, find situations in which you can serve others. Give expecting nothing in return. Take someone out to lunch and listen to their story. Give up the expenses of your luxuries to meet the needs of others. Find a place to serve in your local church or your community consistently. Serve in a capacity where you must be selfless. Give of your time, money, and energy. Give, and you may find you have a lot more to give than an unsolicited opinion. For opportunities to give your time and energy, check out these local places.
Hope Women’s Clinic https://www.hope-clinic.com
New Beginnings https://www.newbeginningstx.org
Cathedral Church http://www.icathedral.org/volunteer
- Make time to talk. If all your conversations stay in the realm of shallow discussion, you’re not emotionally growing. You need at least two to three people in your life with whom you hold connecting conversations. Even if you’re married, you may want to consider cultivating meaningful conversations with someone who is a mentor or leader in your life. This means being vulnerable, teachable, and accountable to someone. Not every dialogue should be emotionally demanding. But you need a few people in your life who can be real with you. If no one is showing you how to grow, there’s a good chance you’re not.
- Choose a low life. In a social media-driven culture, we can expend much time and energy, drawing a spotlight on our achievements, our pleasures, and our preferences. Be intentional in avoiding self-promotion. Don’t trumpet your megaphone of media posts on what you are doing. Choose the road of humbly honoring others and keep the spotlight off yourself. Yes, we’re in a culture where social media is a part of our lives, but don’t navigate your feelings by what others are saying on various social platforms. Take a few days off and give yourself a social media break. Billions of people in the world don’t rise and fall with the public opinion of who they are. You can do it.