‘One day…’ or ‘Day One’

‘New Year, new you!’ is synonymous with January. A new and improved version of ourselves will apparently be ours if we buy this or sign up for that.

A new year with a new beginning is very attractive. Rather like newly fallen snow covers grime, New Year resolutions are sometimes seen as a way of obliterating imperfections. So we promise ourselves we won’t do this or that anymore. But all too often, a few hours or days or weeks later, our grimy side resurfaces like familiar landmarks emerge from thawing snow.
Truth is, my track record of keeping New Year resolutions is poor. So this year before making any, I’ve been thinking about why I’ve failed on so many occasions, and what needs to be different.

Resolutions are sometimes likened to activating a reset button.

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But we are human beings, not machines.
We cannot ‘reset’ ourselves because our present is influenced by our past. We can’t delete our pain at the touch of a button, nor can we wipe sadness away in a simple stroke. But we do have a choice in how we respond to our life experiences – we can become better people with authentic empathy and wisdom, or we can become caustic and bitter.
So resolutions aren’t magic buttons that delete our past, but they can set us on positive paths – nudging us to change the things we can, while accepting the things we can’t alter.

Being realistic is probably the key to success. Frequently, resolutions are big and bold and while there’s nothing wrong in having high hopes, a goal without a realistic plan is just a wish.

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Wishful thinking is having a ‘One day…’ attitude and less likely to lead to fulfilled hopes than a ‘Day One’ approach.
If we make today ‘Day One’ and take one small step to our bigger goal, then it will be a good start to Day Two, and so on.

As well as being realistic in the goals we set, we need to recognise that we will have days when we fall short. How many resolutions are ditched at the first hitch – we do what we said we wouldn’t, or don’t do what we said we would, and so we give up and probably feel guilty. It’s at this point, that as a believer I remember that fresh starts are God’s specialism. An Anglican prayer of confession sums it up in the words:

‘Forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be’

God is sometimes perceived as the author of ‘thou shalt nots’, but actually I believe that ‘thou shalt’ is more God’s line. Our negative attitudes and actions are far more effectively resolved when they are displaced by positives. In the same way, New Year resolutions are more effective when they add something into our pattern of life rather than remove something from it.
Happy New year!

Truth is… Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new is come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Thumbs up!

There’s a saying ‘Bad things come in threes’.
Maybe, but could it be that after one or two glitches, we tend to notice negatives?
What would happen if we deliberately looked for positives to salvage? I had this opportunity a few days ago:
Within three hours, my partner went ‘missing’ in a garden centre, a bus didn’t turn up, and when I eventually got home I couldn’t get in! Truth is, I felt annoyed and angry.
However, I realised that I could stick with the negatives, or focus on the positives which were there if I chose to notice them.

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There are always two ways of seeing a situation – from our perspective, and from the other person’s.
It turned out that my partner had misunderstood our rendez-vous point and was blissfully unaware he was a ‘missing person’ as he sat sipping his coffee!
So I had a choice. To cling on to my reactive exasperation, or recognise that he hadn’t intended to send me searching!
Later, as I started to let go, a better memory of the situation surfaced. A stranger who learnt of my predicament had thoughtfully suggested looking in the lesser-used café – which was where he was.

The bus not turning up for our return journey, was one of those things that sometimes happen. Nothing is predictable in life, and maybe this actually gives room for good things to nudge in.
Again I had a choice. To feel fed up, or see it as an opportunity!
I actually have an excellent track record of both giving and receiving lifts (my longest hitch being to Sicily and back!)

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So with positivity and a sense of adventure, I stuck out my thumb and within seven minutes a stranger had stopped! He was a lovely young man who dropped us back in our home town – I was left with an immense feeling of gratitude.

Being locked out was another ‘it happens’ situation.
Again I had a choice. To be annoyed, or to see the bigger picture!
Being accidentally locked out was a simple mistake, nothing more.
And that’s been this week’s ‘takeaway’ for me – forgiveness, of both others and myself, and letting go of resentments that ultimately tie me in greater knots.

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Truth is… “Whichever one of you has committed no sin, may throw the first stone” John 8:7