Resolute: 1. marked by firm determination 2. bold, steady.
In a fit of New Year’s zeal you wrote a bunch of resolutions. And in a fit of cold reality already broke at least one. Now you’re starting 2017 as a failure. Why even bother with the rest? New Year’s resolutions are like trains. One car off the track and the whole thing goes. The year’s derailed.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Make resolution your resolution.
Life will throw you down in 2017, of that you can be sure. Determine to get up when you fall, no matter what the goal or circumstance. Decide you’ll keep your vows, your promises, your commitments, both to yourself and to others. When you do that, everything else falls into line. Even a derailed train doesn’t have to stop. Where does it say it has to? A derailed train can keep moving forward, churning the earth into ruts behind it and dragging along whatever freight is there. And what is it doing?
Plowing. Paving its own road.
Imagine that train engine dragging its overturned cars along the tracks, igniting sparks from the flint of will and the drag of steel, bellowing the howl of metal on metal. That’s the mantra of the resolute.
Psalm 15:4 describes a resolute person as one …who keeps a promise even if it ruins him.
Have you ever committed to something and halfway through, the landscape changed? The workload mutated, the expectation grew claws and horns and sharp teeth? That’s happened to me so many times I now brace for impact when I make a commitment. Call me a cynic. Or a realist. The fact that my commitment morphed into something else does not release me from it, not if I’m resolute. That’s what it means to keep your word no matter what.
Anybody can decide to fast. Deciding’s easy. It’s a word on a page, an intention. Not just anybody can Gandhi their way into changing the world. Don’t think Gandhi didn’t hunger. Don’t think he was some sort of superhero who didn’t need food like the rest of us. The difference between Gandhi and you or me: degree of resolution.
Look, if your resolutions don’t fly off your soul in a heartbeat, you probably don’t care enough to follow through. Limit your focus to a handful of things for which you’d die. They are the freight you’ll be dragging. They’re also the weight that makes you powerful in your momentum. You know the physics: a body’s mass determines its force.
Often our goals contradict one another. Lose weight. Enter ten hot-dog-eating contests. See more friends/family. Find more time for myself. Make more money. Get more sleep. Resolution is a pyre at which I must sacrifice worthy, wonderful, needful, beautiful things. Most of us can’t possibly accomplish all the high-minded and half-hearted goals we wrote in a delirium of self-aggrandizement. A train can’t go east and west at the same time. Take a fresh look at those resolutions. Do they align? Purge until they do.
At Mount Rushmore, a young man was getting his picture taken. Giving the architectural marvel a middle finger salute.
“Don’t do that,” chided his mother, who was taking the photo. I’ll never forget his answer.
“This is ‘Merica. I can do Whatever… I… Want.”
In ‘Merica, we can flip off the stone busts of the founding fathers. We can do whatever we want. And that’s why we scrawl grand lists and scheme and plan and dream of the future. And some of us put more energy into flipping off life than embracing it. 77% of us would rather write resolutions than accomplish them.
Because it’s easier and more comfortable, we flip off a challenge and console ourselves with next year. But why wait? If you, like me, like so many ‘Mericans, have trouble keeping your resolutions, try making just one this year: be resolute.
It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows. – Proverbs 20:25