I resolutely do not make New Year’s resolutions. I’m all about setting goals – it’s just that I seem to react when anyone tells me I “have” to do something on a certain day. It’s like Valentine’s Day: 2 thumbs down from LMR—I can’t stand it. DON’T tell me that February 14th is the day I must tell the people I love that I love them. Look, if they don’t know it before and after Cupid Stupid Day, we have a problem. But I digress….
While making New Year’s resolutions is on my “uh uh” list, I relate to how this time of year causes us to pause and consider if we’re where we want to be in life. Every one of us has areas in which we’d like to improve. If only we could make the changes by simply thinking about them…
Yet, strangely, it’s the thinking about them that can be the first step to failure. We look at a change we need to make and thinking about how hard it’s going to be may be the very reason we never begin. The time, pain and sacrifice would be worth it, but we can sense the self-denial, smell the sweat and feel the fear of what it’s going to take more strongly than we can touch the victory that seems so distant.
Several years ago, I hit a wall in a relationship and it felt as though I was being crushed. As I considered the yawning future, my overarching thought was, “Oh well, this is my life.” Maybe I had an idea of what it would take to fix it, but the self-denial, sweat and fear seemed so overwhelmingly real that I couldn’t take even a small step toward right thinking/action. I remember lying in my bed one morning trying to come to grips with this sort of half-life that was to be my destiny. I was soaking in a smelly pot of, “Since this is the way it is, settle for becoming less than you are and very little of who God made you to be.”
Then I remembered, or—more accurately—was reminded by God of, one of the most powerful prayers I had ever heard. It was designed for situations like mine, but in my quagmire of despair, I had almost drowned instead of reaching toward its strength. Here it is—the most powerful prayer I know when a person needs to make a big change:
Dear God: Please help me to want to want to fix this. Amen.
On my bed, that’s what I prayed. Honestly, I didn’t think God could do anything with it. It wasn’t like I was “praying in faith” and doing a mighty work on my end to prove to God I was worthy of His help. All I could do in that simple prayer was acknowledge that I hoped there was some way this could get better while not really seeing how it was possible. At the end of the prayer, I still felt crushed.
Over the next few months, I kept that as my daily prayer, “God, please help me to want to want to…” There came a time when the prayer changed to, “Dear God, I actually want to fix this now…” And then my prayer evolved to, “God, I thank You for how You’re working…I’m surprised, but you’re changing me and I’m grateful.” For me, the “fix” took 3 years, but I’ve never looked back. The self-denial, sweat and fear that had seemed like obstacles are now distant memories. I still shake my head in wonder because I approached this “need to change” by bringing very little in the way of my ability to do anything about it.
Are you facing a challenge in taking steps to advance your career? Are you needing to get healthy physically, financially, relationally or spiritually? We think we need to massively clean up our stuff so God has enough room to do a mighty work in us. In truth, He only needs a tiny space to get started.
I have 3-4 big areas I want to “fix” in my life. I’m not resolving to get them accomplished, but I am being prayerful about wanting to want to and looking forward to how God leads.
…maybe I’ll knock them out as a Valentine’s Day gift to myself ?