Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work.
I was in the line at Starbucks last week and the lady in front of me ordered a mocha latte, with whip, and a formidable looking pastry item. She lightheartedly mentioned, to the Barista at the register, that with only a few days left till the New Year she “…might as well enjoy it now”. The girl at the registered, who might have weighed 105 pounds, politely acknowledged the sentiment, but didn’t truly understand the inner turmoil manifesting itself at her register.
I, on the other hand, knew exactly where she was coming from, having struggled with weight for most of my life, and I wanted to give that lady a hug. However, I also wanted to tell her that “New Years” never comes and smack the pastry out of her hand. (I also decided jail was bad.) I wanted to share with her that if she didn’t have the internal capital to accomplish her goal starting today, that merely changing the last digit on her calendar would truly offer her little sustaining motivation.
Maybe, like you, having tried every fad diet out there to lose weight: Atkins, The Zone, Starvation, South Beach, Grapefruit, Krispy Kreme. (Krispy Kreme was my favorite diet) understand these attempts usually last for a little while and then fade out.
New years resolutions are usually doomed, from jump-street, because they address behavior modification but rarely look at heart transformation. We try to change how we act without ever examining why we act the way we do.
If the behavior you are addressing is to eat less there are a million reasons to do that. Those reasons could range from being healthier, so you can play with your children, to looking better for the summer. The more you look at your heart motivation the better chance you have to reach your goals, whatever they are. For those of us who use food as comfort or as a coping mechanism this process is invaluable.
Behavior modification is also one of the biggest mistakes people make about maters of faith. Many people believe that being a Christian is about behavior modification, when in reality, Jesus is after heart transformation. Many think being a follower of Jesus is about being a “good enough” person in order to curry favor with God. We believe, incorrectly, that God has a checklist of things that you are and aren’t supposed to do, and is keeping score.
You shall help the old lady across the street.
You Shall Not push the old lady into the street.
In Jesus ministry he was always attempting to change people’s behavior by transforming the way their heart perceived life and truth. Jesus used story and cognitive disequilibrium (unbalances people’s thinking and preconceived notions, on purpose, to get them to re-think life and truth) to get then to examine where their heart is. Just take a look at how Jesus talks to the rich young ruler, Nicodemus, the woman at the well and of course, his disciples.
One of my all time favorite Bible verses is Romans 12:1-2. Here Paul explains that he is giving over his life to God, not merely because it is written to do so in the law. But, “to offer our bodies as living sacrifices in view of Gods mercy.” He is saying that in light of the cross, in light of the nails, in light of the whip, in light of the blood, in light of the price paid, in light of the unmerited love of grace, my heart has been so transformed, so altered, that I can’t help but to change my behavior.
Now, to be honest, you only need to talk to my wife, or my kids or someone at work, to tell you that I am far far from perfect. In fact, some days I wonder if I am even going in the right direction. Yet, as I look back over my life, as a follower of Jesus, I know that I’m not perfect, but I also know that my heart doesn’t look the same as it did yesterday.