Most of us have already bailed on January’s New Year’s resolutions. So, if making resolutions didn’t work for you, February is the perfect time to think about fashioning a vision for 2017 – one that includes spiritual resolutions -- to finish out the year with joy.
According to Statistic Brain, some top New Year’s resolutions are: (1) lose weight, (2) get organized, (3) stay fit and healthy, (4) quit smoking, and (5) spend more time with family. Sadly, that list does not include: (1) prayer, (2) gaining a better understanding of our relationship with God, or (3) studying the Scriptures more.
While all those popular resolutions would make our human lives appear better, focusing on the spiritual aspects of our lives would enable us to find answers to our problems with God’s help.
Your spiritual vision for 2017 could include some ideas from my list:
• See with clarity – See God’s goodness everywhere; look at the world with compassion; do not condemn or judge.
• Dust off your spiritual compass – Look up to God for help instead of trying to fix things humanly; rely on God’s strength.
• Encourage others on their journey of faith – Join a Bible study; participate in a community event.
• Seek spiritual freedom – Romans 8 offers a great vision for how to find spiritual freedom.
• Look at the new year with hope - See the new year as an opportunity to mend broken relationships, strengthen family ties, forgive and forget.
• Take time to improve yourself spiritually - Read the Scriptures more; spend more time praying; serve your church; and/or map out a plan to heal whatever needs healing (maybe a disappointment or sickness/suffering).
Honestly, I haven’t always felt able to have a spiritual vision for myself. There was a time in my life when I felt like I was drifting along, like a ship tossed to and fro on the ocean. I had no vision for myself and no matter what I attempted to do, nothing made me happy. It seemed I was so focused on every little inconvenience in my life that I couldn’t see the big picture -- all the good that was actually present every single moment.
I felt desperate and started studying the Scriptures for inspiration. I read in Acts where Paul spoke of finishing his course with joy. I started praying for God to give me joy and to help me out of that messy time. During my spiritual study, I came across this passage from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy: “If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit. If honest, he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy.” (Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, 21:9)
There was the answer! As a Christian Scientist, I was certainly a disciple of Christ and trying to be a good Christian. I knew that by consciously trying to live Jesus’ teachings -- like loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and loving my neighbor as myself -- I would advance spiritually. I cherished that Christians should follow Christ’s example of forgiveness, caring for one another, compassion, helping those in need, and healing the sick.
So, during that time, I promised myself that I would focus on following Christ and concentrate on turning away from all the material annoyances that were taking away my joy. Before long, I was gaining a little each day in that right direction Eddy wrote about. I found myself less concerned about everyday challenges and more joyous. That is when I started shaping a spiritual vision for my life.
This year, set your sights on growing spiritually. Helen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.” If you feel like you are wandering blindly on the sea of life, envision a plan for 2017 that includes spiritual resolutions, and finish your course with joy!
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Debra Chew writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and wellness from a Christian Science perspective. She has been published in USA Today, chattanoogan.com, Knoxville News Sentinel, Memphis Commercial Appeal, UK Health Triangle Magazine, and the Jackson Sun & JS Health Magazine.