How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Taking a wild guess I’d say probably not well. We’re inching up to the end of January and by now many people have experienced the “New Year’s Resolution slump”.
Like probably every other girl in the world, I REALLY wanted to begin this year by getting into shape. (A.K.A get my bikini body back kind of deal.) Oh wait. I don’t wear those…ok, moving on. But still, like a bride prepping for her wedding day I have a similar motivation right now to look my absolute best. (Redeployment is coming!!!) I already walk my dog every day, but that’s not a full blown, sweating bullets kind of walk. There’s a lake that has a 3 mile trail around it not too far from my house. I had this grand plan that the next day, I would go walk the lake and maybe walk it TWICE.
And then I broke my toe.
I applauded myself in the fact that this is the first broken bone I’ve had. But still, the timing was “impeccable” and I didn’t even have a heroic story to go with my poor pinkie toe turning black and blue. I’m just a klutz and that is all. But to be honest, I was way more upset that my grand work out plan had failed than the fact that my toe was in excruciating pain. Why?
Because I’m a perfectionist. And a control freak. And when something slips out of my control that I thought really was, then I don’t have the most mature attitude about it. I get an A+ at being hard on myself and then shaming myself if I don’t follow through with my plan of x y and z. But there is grace. Grace that I generally am freer at giving other people than myself.
Ok, I’m exposing my soul a lot in this post, so something you need to know is that I’m a diehard Anne of Green Gables fan. Yup, unashamedly. Besides the romance between her and Gilbert Blythe, something I really appreciate about the story is Anne’s outlook on life after she does yet another (gasp) stupid thing. Doesn’t she grow out of her mistakes? Well, yes and no. Like all of us, there (hopefully) is maturity along the way, but we will make mistakes this year. We will even have days when we do everything “right” but nothing in that day will go our way. We will ‘break our toes’ in the most inconvenient times which will tempt us to have a bad attitude for the rest of the week. We will disappoint people, and we will be disappointed. But in the midst of these, and especially as our new year resolutions begin to slide, there are two things I have recently become mindful of: GRACE and TRUST.
“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.” ~ Anne Shirley
Anne realized things didn’t go the way she thought they would. Her grand plan was thwarted. Yes, being in the depths of despair was always a tempting option, but she wouldn’t stay there forever. One of her “mottos” became the quote above. She had the ability to pick herself up, looking to the next day as a clean slate full of opportunities instead of one being tainted by past mistakes or ‘broken toes’. She allowed herself grace – and I need to allow that too!
Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
John 1:16: “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
The reality is, having an immature attitude when something doesn’t go my way, or condemning myself instead of giving myself grace and allowing myself to receive grace is contrary to what God wants. This is not reflecting Jesus, and so I’m not doing the best job at keeping my New Year’s Resolution that I wrote about in my first January post. (And it’s not even February!)
The love of the Lord is there for us. His mercies have no end and they are NEW every morning! How incredible. God doesn’t keep a tally score when I wake up each day thinking about all the ways that I made mistakes the day before. No. He gives me a fully fresh dosage of mercy. It’s a dosage that I don’t have to share with anyone because it’s specifically given to me, and specifically given to you. And we do not run out of it!
In Him we receive grace upon grace. Grace is what the Gospel is about. Not me, abiding perfectly by my plans and my “righteousness” and then beating myself up each time I fail. How dare I think that I am better than receiving the grace upon grace that He freely gives me. But oh, I do. God, forgive me.
One of the most powerful testimonies we have as Christians is the one of not having it all together, and not trying to, or pretending like we do. I mean, in our heart or hearts we know that we don’t, but there is no reason to hide or be ashamed. When our weaknesses are exposed it’s an opportunity for God’s power to show up and show off in our lives, and to demonstrate to us and to those around us that His GRACE is what is enough. Not what I can or cannot do. Weakness means boasting so that the glory of God can be brightly displayed in our lives. Isn’t that what this life is all about anyway?
Earlier on I shared that I’m a control freak. Similar with beating myself up instead of receiving grace, clinging to control isn’t trusting the Lord. It’s basically telling the world that I got it together and that I can do things by myself. And this, this is pride and not at all trusting in God’s plan for my life, let alone my day. So again, I ashamedly share with you that this is something I struggle with practically on a daily basis. God, forgive me.
Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Even if my plans for my day – or my plans for my life – end up being completely different than I anticipated, then I need to learn that that is ok. As long as the Lord is the one establishing my steps, then how can anything really go “wrong”? Because if my life is in the will of God, then He will lead me, and guide me and fulfill His purposes in me. What a beautiful promise we have as followers of Him!
So as your New Year’s Resolutions begin to ride the slip and slide, or if you also broke your toe remember that God gives us grace upon grace. It’s there, I promise. But it’s up to us to actually receive it. And as our day turns out different than we wanted, maybe it’s a good time to relinquish some control and remember that God is the ultimate one who directs our paths, and He can and should be trusted. No matter what.