So what’s it going to be?
Are you one of the millions of people that hold the tradition of making a New Year’s resolution at the beginning of the year?
When I first started writing this I was going to go in a completely different direction. But, you know me, as soon as I start writing something I have to start looking into the history.
I was surprised when I found that making New Year’s resolutions went all the way back to the Babylonians. That was over 4,000 years ago! They are the first that we know that made the seasonal resolutions. They were also the first on record to celebrate New Year, although their new year started somewhere in March at the planting of the crops. To me, this actually seems a more logical place to put a new year, if you have to put it someplace. I mean, really, who wants to start things in the middle of a freezing cold snowy winter day? The planting of new crops, the start of a new crops season, just fits with new beginnings and growth.
But back to the Babylonians. This was the time for them to make promises to their Gods, pay their debts and return borrowed objects. These promises have been considered the forerunners to our present-day New Year’s resolutions.
The Romans also had a similar tradition. In the year 46 B.C., Julius Caesar declared January 1st of the new Roman calendar to be the first day of the year. January was declared the first month of the year in honor of the god Janus. This Roman god was a two-faced god that inhabited doorways and arches symbolizing the passing on or going a different direction. This two-faced god looked both backwards and forwards. So, in like manner, the celebration of Janice on January 1st was a time for those in the Roman empire to celebrate by looking back on what they had done and forward to the future. Promises were again made during the celebration.
It wasn’t until much later that this was adopted as a Christian practice. In 1740 the English clergyman John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, created a Covenant Renewal Service. This service was most commonly held at the beginning of the new year: A new start for a new year. Commonly these were held at night as we hold our New Year’s Eve services now. Often, however, instead of making promises to God, instead, there was renewed commitment and acceptance of His grace, that covers all our sins.
Nowadays, the idea of a New Year’s resolution is a common secular practice having nothing to do with any God or religion. People all over the world make promises to themselves.
“I’m going to lose weight”, or “I’m going to pay off all my bills and credit cards”.
Most of these never make it past the end of the month before they’re tossed by the proverbial wayside.
I’m not that overly fond of making resolutions. I used to be, and then I found they were nearly impossible to keep and caused more discouragement than excitement.
Several years ago I came across an article called My One Word. The idea was simple, instead of creating a list of impossible resolutions that were normally broken within the first month, just one word was chosen to focus on for the year. In the words of the article, “The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word. This process provides clarity by taking all of those big plans from your life change and narrows them down to one single focus”.
I have joined in several times and I love it. To focus on one word, say… “discipline”, look at it from every aspect.
How can my life be improved with discipline?
What does discipline look like?
Where in the Bible is discipline talked about?
I can’t fail with just one word. It isn’t something on a to-do list that needs to become completed, but a focus that engages me and encourages me to create something better in my life.
I encourage you to try this. Take a look for yourself. Go to myoneword.com You’ll not only find an explanation of the process, but hints and helps that will assist in making the decision on the word you may want to choose for yourself this year.
After choosing your word, you have the opportunity to become part of community. Weekly devotionals are delivered to your email and an online journal is offered and encouraged. All of this helps to encourage and make the journey an enlightening and successful process.
Try it, you’ll be glad you did.
If you decide this is something you’re interested in, let us know. Leave a one word comment on what word you chose. If you like, you can certainly leave a longer message, I love reading your replies.