Rhythms over Resolutions

Rhythms over Resolutions

Hey Friends!

Let's talk and process how to build healthy yearly rhythms of letting the old go and becoming new around the Christian calendar.

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Romans 12:2 NLT

I've come to realize that we strive to be our most proactive, put-together selves at the very start of each calendar year when there is the least daylight and the worst weather. This often leads to unmet goals, self-judgment, self-loathing...basically a whole bunch of negative self-talk that tanks our emotional well being. When we base our new goals around the worldly calendar of January 1, it doesn't really lead to much success. However, I'd like to walk us through how to pursue change by following God's rhythms of our Christmas and Easter calendar celebrations and how they can bring us forward into new life.

Honestly, I've never been one to choose a New Year's resolution. I think initially it felt too big and weighty and this enneagram 3 "achiever" was always scared that failure would be inevitable. Not a very good reason, unfortunately.

What I know I wanted at the start of each year was a renewal for my body and soul that began with a purpose to keep growing into that year. I think all of us, whether we voice it or not, want to learn and grow each year, seeking a better version of ourselves that the one previously. But does making a New Year's resolution on January 1st, and even keeping that resolution all year long, actually help us grow?

Unless your resolution is reading your Bible daily or committing to daily prayer, i'm going to boldly say, no, I don't think our New Year's resolutions feel like growth. I saw this because the women I know and talk with regularly still struggle with the same emotional and mental hurdles even when they're walking one mile a day or cutting chocolate out of their diets.

As a Christ follower, my two biggest celebrations of the year are Christmas and Easter. I try to keep these holidays as my top priorities, even though I often fall short and can become undone by distraction. With Christmas marking the birth of the Savior Jesus and his hope filling the world, into 33 years later when he gave up his life on the cross and rose from the grave to rescue all of humanity, celebrated every Easter, I think these rhythms matter more than a January 1 calendar date.

Christmas was chosen for December 25 because it marks the winter solstice, or the shortest day of the year. And the shortest day has the least sunlight, making it the darkest day of the year, literally. This symbolically draws our attention in the darkness to the need for a savior and hope beyond this world. And what we typically do is celebrate Christmas and then six days later we try to "resolution" our way into doing everything out of our own strength and determination, losing our focus to rely on God and his saving presence.

The only way I can describe how I'm growing is that I've finally found the beauty in letting winter be winter. Letting the old die away so that rest and renewal can be the focus as a new calendar year begins. This is a new way I've learned to honor Jesus out of the Christmas holiday as a new year begins.

What do I mean? Instead of picking up new things out of Christmas, I ask and pray about what in me needs to die away or be killed off. Just like how the winter frost kills off vegetation before each spring. I choose in this time to be brave enough to name the things I've been carrying around emotionally and mentally which God is asking me to let go. God always honors what matches his Kingdom mindset and is more than willing to help us let go of anything that stands in the way of becoming the ones He is calling us to be. Allowing this, sometimes painful, pruning to happen in the winter and allowing this to be a season of rest is the best way I have found to give the glory of the work in my life directly to God and not try to claim any glory for myself in the name of my own efforts.

"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more." John 15:1-2 NLT

As we let Him continue to prune and kill off the old through January, February and March, we leave time for this to happen slowly and not rush the process. When we're giving up strongholds in our lives it takes time and doesn't happen overnight or in a week. Again, it's time to slow down. Take time to pray. Take time to rest. Really sit with God and let Him do the pruning and the healing. Take time to talk with a trusted friend about what God is helping you lay down.

Now, as we start heading toward the end of March and begin to see and feel the first signs of spring, it's time to turn our eyes and hearts on ushering in the Easter season. Just as God restored the dead body of Jesus three days after his death on the cross, He is the One who can restore and renew our hearts and minds. When we pursue the new things for the year that the Holy Spirit has laid on our hearts, and do this in step with Easter, it drives our focus to the One who is actually able to make us new. It's not you or I doing this. It is Christ in us.

This is when my mind shifts, as I approach Easter, and I pray and ask God what new thing(s) He wants to do in me this year. The process starts out of a restful January-February, just like the Jewish days and how they began with the evening meal and sleep as marking the start of a new day, very unlike our sunrise approach. As focused hope in Jesus builds into the coming Easter celebration, the Holy Spirit helps me see the new things God is revealing.

This perspective shift helps to remind us believers that if it's late March and your beating yourself up for failing, yet again, to stick with a New Year's resolution, that this is another approach that might lead you to real growth. It's a whole lot sweeter and impactful when your new rhythms are in step with the Holy Spirit and His abilities are bringing about the change in you.

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

As in all things, read your Bible and determine in your own heart where you land on these thoughts. I'm praying my words bring truth and encouragement to you in redirecting your mind to holy rhythms that God has set before us.

How have I been practicing this this year?

Truthfully, I deeply needed to grow in patience. My anger and quick words of correction at my kids has become its own form of addiction. As God revealed this to me coming out of the Christmas season it was eye opening and it hurt. I couldn't pursue patience without naming the anger and impatience and asking them to die first. If I'm an easily angered person, the Holy Spirit is going to magically provide me with a deep well of patience. The two simply cannot coexist together. So instead of praying for patience, I began this year with praying over letting God kill off my angry attitude. It wasn't bringing Him any glory anyway and it's certainly been doing a destructive work in my heart and in my relationship with my kiddos. 

I will honestly say that while things aren't perfect, God has brought me miles ahead of where I was from the start of this year in naming my anger and painfully pulling off the thick layers of habit. As I set my eyes and prayers on Easter, I'm overwhelmed with the love and kindness He has shown me in helping to grow new seeds of patience within my heart. I deeply feel the difference. My kids are noticing the difference. And a patient heart is one that can more readily be used by God, which is a new rhythm to rejoice and praise Jesus in because it is actually changing my life.



If you’ve found a helpful rhythm in your life please share it in the comments ❤️

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