“What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.” – Jn 1:4
New Year’s resolutions are problematic. Too often, they are more life draining rather than life giving. They have led me to more dead ends than to vistas of hope or avenues of growth. When I have failed to keep these resolutions, I fall prey to the tyranny of the should’s and beat myself up. When I have been good at keeping them, I easily become self-sufficient and prideful, which gives birth to other vices. I am not alone in this.
These promises of self-improvement seldom work because often they are more self-directed and Me-focused. They are about what I want to do, what I’d like to see happen, powered by a more ego-driven dynamic. They do not stem from a greater, higher, or transcendent power.
Yet, the Christmas miracle of the “Word became flesh and makes his dwelling among us” reveals another dynamic. There is a river of grace that runs deep through each of our lives. When we choose to flow with this stream of greater Force, God, Spirit, or Source, more life comes about. Greater life emerges, gradually, slowly, yet decisively. It’s simple and yet elusive. It’s not about me, what I think is best. It’s about responding to greater life. Life that comes in the smallness of a poor, Jewish baby two millennium ago. Life that is already within me, in my present circumstances, both positive and negative, waiting to burst open.
How might I let this shift guide me? Pausing to notice what has been consistently life giving in the past year may help. Asking God, “How are you inviting me to greater life?” and really listening without an agenda may help. Adopting a prayerful reflection process (like this one) may help.
Whether we adopt a New Year’s resolution or not, each of us has the opportunity at this threshold of another year to ask prayerfully: I am open to greater life? What is my response?