The old year is about to end and the prospects for the new year loom. What are your plans for the New Year? In my family we had two suicides this past year, I have lost count of how many of my friends became widows this past year. I am ready to move on, and so I have been thinking about what my next year will be like for me.
No Resolutions For Me
I was reading today about roses and the pruning process. I have a favorite getaway, and it is a beautiful winery in southern Indiana. They are surrounded by vineyards, and they prune the vines. In both cases, the pruning seems so harsh. I’m not a rose fan, and I don’t have grape vines, but I have pruned a few things, and I have killed some of them from pruning too much or too hard. So, there is a knack to pruning that belongs to the masters and not to the amateurs like me.
Have you ever seen a grapevine after it’s been pruned? It actually looks bloody. Anyone who prunes rose bushes knows that the bush fights back with thorns and branches that come flinging at the pruner. In both cases, the pruned plant looks ruined. (the reason I didn’t know where to stop). Without the pruning the roses the next year would not be as glorious, and the grape harvest would not be as plentiful if the vines were not pruned so much. The pruning seems harsh but is in truth the best thing for the plants to grow and become the best they can be
I Was Thinking
Many years I have made resolutions which go by the wayside somewhere around February or March. I have started new diet plans, new organizational plans and new better myself plans and although I was sure this time, I would follow through I didn’t. So, why the surefire start? Why do I think each year keeping my resolutions will be different? At this point in my life, I don’t. I am done with promises to myself I don’t keep and failure so early in my year. I am tired of starting my year with great hope and then somewhere around July feeling angry with myself and beating myself up as a failure and a slug.
The Master Pruner
I have a lot of bad habits. They always get in my way when I am trying to improve myself. My diet plans fail because I prefer foods that are bad for me. I ate half a cake in the last week. I love to knit, and of course, I am a writer. I can knit and walk or do my stepmaster, but I do both so slow when I am trying to do them at the same time that I don’t think it’s helpful. So my preference interferes with my fitness goals. I have a comfort zone that is very small, so walking is either too hot or too cold to go outside — a million excuses which sabotage my goals.
Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
My prayer today is that God would help me prune away all my self-sabotaging old habits to make room for healthier, more helpful new habits. (Is it really so hard to walk over to the cabinet and put something away?) I need to get rid of what is keeping me living the life God has given me in the way He has planned—which by the way is always the best. The best me is the me God created me to be. The problem is all the things I have made myself to be. The habits I have formed without consideration of God. Someone once said that the most authentic self is found in God. The pruning process is hard. Trying to prune away bad habits myself can kill my spirit and cause me to be depressed. It never works,
Job 5:17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
Gentle and Kind
I have been disciplined by the Almighty. He seems to be the only one who can correct or teach me in a way that doesn’t hurt but gets to the point. I don’t know how God does it, but He does, and I think it’s because gentleness, kindness, and love are His attributes and He cannot contradict Himself. It’s hard to give up a beloved habit even if we know it’s defeating our purpose. We may want to hang onto it and probably will if we are left to ourselves. God knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows what is best for us. Saying that seems almost like a cliché’, but we can trust God with our whole heart and all our habits. He is kind and gentle and only wants what is best for us because He is for us.
Before I try to make a new habit, I have to identify the old patterns that are sabotaging my efforts and causing me to feel like a failure resulting in depression. After I prune that away with God’s help or better yet, let Him prune me in His way. I can allow new growth to emerge. I can move toward a better physical me and a better spiritual me which will automatically make a happier me. Hmmmmm where to start? Help me, Jesus to identify those habits that need to be pruned away and help me to allow the process necessary to make that happen. My eyes are on You, the One who loves me and is for me. Then, let he new year dawn!