The best thing about today is that it’s fresh. It’s a new day, and it’s a new year (mostly), and the world is our oyster, so to speak. Many of our New Year’s resolutions are waning, our will is struggling, and we’re tired with just eight weeks of 2018 behind us. It’s not always just our goals that weigh us down–it’s not just the extra pounds we need to lose, but how we got them; it’s not always the schedule we need to keep, but the chaos of yesterday; it’s not always about today being hard, but all the yesterdays that brought us to today.
Is There Hope?
A much-used phrase I heard throughout my growing-up years and even now is “hope for tomorrow.” It’s a phrase that’s thrown around in the church as well as in general, and it’s true, of course. We’re all looking for a hope for tomorrow. As Christians we know there is a Hope for tomorrow–our Hope for tomorrow is Jesus! There is hope, but it’s not just for tomorrow. Jesus is also our hope for today.
When One Door Closes…
Another well-used saying is “when one door closes, another one opens.” It’s meant to mean, when an opportunity ends, another one will arise. What if you’re the one closing the door? When you’re making a lifestyle change, you’re ultimately closing one door, and opening a new one.
Your boss doesn’t fire you; you choose to leave. Your physician isn’t putting you on a gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian diet; you choose it. Your emotionally-draining and sometimes hurtful friend isn’t asking for your forgiveness; you’re offering it. Child services isn’t telling you to stop spanking your children; you want to. You are no alcoholic, but you want to stop drinking. No one is telling you to download that app that shuts off your phone while you drive; you just want to be safe.
These are just some New Year’s resolutions I’ve seen over the years, and no one is choosing to make a change but the people making the change. No one is putting in the effort except the people making the change. Are you struggling with a lifestyle change? Start today.
Have Hope TODAY
- Start your day with a mission. Depending on the change you’re trying to make, you may have to make a decision every single day to…change. Forgiving someone who wronged you deeply takes a conscious effort every day. Believe me. I know. I decided to forgive for so many days, I don’t even know when the forgiveness became real. I don’t even remember when the forgiveness was done. Was my forgiveness any less when I was struggling each day to do it? No. It was hard on those days! It’s no different for anything else.
Start the day deciding to be healthy.
Start the day planning to stop smoking.
Start the day with new purpose.
- Do not be ashamed. If you cannot accept the chocolate candy your coworker is selling for their child’s fundraiser, tell them! You can politely decline, but if you share your lifestyle change, your daily goals, and your purpose, you won’t only make it easier to decline next time, but you’ll also open a dialogue. Now you can share with that coworker when you struggle. Do not be ashamed of making a healthy and positive lifestyle change. If you’re stopping alcohol or tobacco, and you’re ashamed to tell you’re friends, you may need to reevaluate who your friends are. If you’re ashamed to tell your friends you are starting your day with Jesus, praying before meals, downloading a Bible app to read on break–you may need to reevaluate that as well. Share your goals so that you can also share your struggles…and your victories!
- Plan for success. If you plan to lose weight, stop buying clothes until you drop a size. If you intend to spend less and save more, open a savings account, change the budget. If the goal is to eat healthier, buy a cookbook and make a grocery list. You cannot “wing-it” and succeed when you’re making a major lifestyle change. Make a plan, and then plan for success.
- Celebrate the small things. You don’t have to plan small milestones, but you can celebrate small victories. In the weight-loss world, it’s called “NSV–non-scale victory”. Maybe your jeans fit better, maybe you played tag with your kids and didn’t get winded. No matter what the lifestyle change is, there are small things to celebrate along the way. Don’t forget to reward yourself with little things to. Reward yourself once per week with some quiet time with a book and cup of tea, a child-free trip to the market, a new book, CD, or film. There are free and cheap ways to celebrate, and it’s easier to celebrate when you share your journey with others!
- Trust in Jesus. Not everyone has the assurance of Jesus. If you trust in Jesus, believe He is your savior, and that He’s coming again for you, you can trust in Him to help you. He doesn’t promise to take away our struggles–not until He comes to take us home. He does promise to hear our prayers. When we’re ashamed and powerless in this world, we can talk with our Jesus.
If you’re struggling with your new lifestyle changes, and nothing else seems to work on the hard days, remember this:
And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God, for them who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-emphasis added).
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phillipians 4:13-emphasis added).