A Gathering Voices Post by Lara Blackwood Pickrel
This post is definitely late in the game, resolution after resolution having already been made in those champagne-filled hours before New Year’s Day - promises to lose weight, exercise more, drink or smoke less, de-clutter the house, find our joy... But a list of resolutions on a recent church newsletter (“pray more, read the Bible more,” etc.) got me thinking: New Year’s resolutions are typically all about ourselves - what we can do to make our own lives better. What can I resolve to do that will make a difference beyond my own life? What sorts of resolutions can we (as Christians) make that might have the power to change the world?
After wrestling with these questions for a few days, I offer the following three resolutions as the humble beginning of a list of “Christian Resolutions for Self and Other”:
Resolution #1: Stop Whining. Sometimes it seems as though a primary Christian activity is complaining about things we encounter in the world. If we managed to take even half of the time and energy we put into whining and divert it towards actually doing the things we think the government, schools, culture and (gasp!) our churches are “keeping us from doing”... well, we’d be DOING them. Complaining about not being able to pray somewhere is actually time spent not praying. Going on and on about how our nation isn’t faithful eats up time in which we (and our communities of faith) could live faithfully. And cutting out the complaining will make things much more pleasant for everyone around us. Beyond that, our time spent on complaint is also time spent calcifying the image others have of the “Whiny Christian” - and we could all do without that bothersome bit of PR.
Resolution #2: Listen More. In 2012, let’s make time to really hear those around us -
Let us make time to listen to our family members so that we can discover and rediscover their hopes, fears, joys and hurts. Depending upon your situation, this might mean putting down the smartphone long enough to sit around a table and eat a meal, or it might mean knitting together those precious few moments between school schedules and work shifts so that a conversation can take place across the span of a few days.
Let us make time to listen to our neighbors - especially those of different ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic statuses - so that we can confront our biases and assumptions while building relationship and trust. Part of that listening must include discovering what our neighbors really need instead of what we think they need, deserve or can get by with.
Let us make time to listen to God for ourselves instead of expecting pastors, authors and televangelists to do the all listening for us. This requires spending time in silence or stillness as well as time in service to others.
Resolution #3: Get Real. One of the biggest roadblocks between folks who don’t go to church and the Church is often folks who DO go to church. Why? Because much of the time those of us who do go to church aren’t in the practice of being ourselves (or we aren’t genuinely kind to others who are being themselves) when we are inside the church building. When we all take the risk of being vulnerable and honest within our community of faith, we inadvertently practice Christian hospitality - inviting others into the type of relationship they yearn to experience: one that isn’t fake. And, in the meantime, we get to experience that sort of relationship ourselves while also putting a few dings in the reputation Christians have of being hypocrites.
These three resolutions are as good for us as losing a few pounds, eating healthier or cleaning out the closets at home. They are good for our spirits. And, at the same time, they are good for the people in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, and possibly even the world as a whole.
Now that I’ve shown my hand, I’m interested to hear what you bring to the table. What resolutions for the sake of the Church/World would you add to or take away from the list?