By Angier Brock
Some people like making New Year’s Resolutions. Others do not. I don’t know which camp you’re in, but I’m in the former. I relish any opportunity for using the “reset” button: the beginning of Lent, my birthday, the onset of the academic year, the first Sunday in Advent, and, of course, the turn into a New Year. Sometimes it’s a habit of eating or exercise that I want to reset. Sometimes it’s my prayer life or journaling practice. Sometimes it’s an urge to visit a certain place, to re-establish contact with an old friend, to read a particular book, or to begin a new writing project that I want to honor by turning the amorphous and vague longing into a concrete and specific goal.
The year 2016 will bring challenges around the globe. We live on a planet plagued by climate change and chaotic weather patterns—and we argue over whether or how we can do anything to alter that. We face worldwide threats of extremism and terrorism, and many regions suffer the wreckage and displacement of human lives due to war, economics practices, and other factors. We argue over how to respond those things, too. As Americans, we live in an election year that promises to be as raucous and mean-spirited as any I can remember. God willing, we will survive its noise, its lies, its ugliness, and various arguments over that.
None of those are things I can change in any significant way. But here is what I can do. I can resolve to listen more and to jump to conclusions less. I can resolve to use less water. To pray for my enemies as well as those I love. To contribute at least monthly to the back pack ministry at my church. To sing every day. To be faithful in keeping my journal.
By the end of this year, I will have failed at most of these public (and some other private) resolutions. Heck, by the end of this week I will probably have failed at most of them. For that reason, I will make one more resolution: I will resolve to keep using the “reset” button—as many times as I need to, and for as long as I can. That is both my New Year’s resolution and my prayer.