At this time of year, we often entertain lofty ideals of resolutions and life-changes. We look back at some of the events and happenings of last year, and we vision-cast into the future. We might even plan for certain activities or attitudes that will make the next year a year of betterment and personal achievement. Often, such resolutions center on diets and exercise programs, or personal temperaments that we long to tweak. I will get on that treadmill; I will avoid that Nanaimo Bar; I will drink less coffee! Such resolutions are well and good, and they have a place in our lives.
But what about our spiritual lives? C.S. Lewis once stated that the choices we make either turn us either into ‘a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, or else into one that is in a state of war God, and its fellow creatures, and itself.’ Our spirituality is not divorced from our everyday existence, and the various choices that make up our lives. In fact, it is even problematic to talk about our ‘spiritual lives’ – this makes it sound like it is different than our physical life, our financial life, or our relational life. The truth is, we are called to live all moments of our life spiritually. We live our lives with God. Thus, the attention that we give to our life of faith is really not separate from the attention we are called to give to the other matters in our life.
This opens up a multitude of questions we would do well to ask ourselves. Do we take the time to reflect on how we have spiritually grown over the past year? Is there an area of our relationship with God that should be addressed now that we have stepped over the precipice of 2017? Do you feel the need to pray more? Do you want to sit and read the Bible more often? Are there certain vices – swearing, judgement, gossip – that damage your relationship with God and others? Are there actions or activities that God may ask me to step away from?
If we are honest with ourselves, these questions, if truly engaged in, can be difficult. They expose areas in our lives that God may wish us to address. But if God points us to parts of our lives in need of re-creation, then this ultimately serves the purpose of drawing us closer into the dynamics of God’s love and peace. What awaits us in these reflections is not self-condemnation or divine alienation; what awaits us is intimacy with the very Lord who sustains us.
Making life-decisions about our diets and exercise is a good thing. Deciding to drink less, stop smoking, run more, or generally be happier in life – these are all good decisions to make, and we should make these resolutions joyfully. But let us not forget that our relationship with God is to be the most important part of who we are; our life with God is to undergird all decisions and resolutions. Thus it is important to include this as a necessary part of our life decisions for 2017.
Here are some thoughts to get you started.
How often do you take devoted time to be with God? Is your ‘Sabbath observance’ just about going to church?
When is the last time that you read the scriptures? Did you read them for ‘information’ or for ‘formation’?
What is your prayer life like? Do you say morning and evening prayers? Do you use a liturgy? Be honest with yourself – Are your prayers more an active calling to God, or mere rote repetition?
If you viewed Jesus as walking beside you ever single moment of the day, would this change your behaviour? What would you do/not do differently?