By Mitchell D. Cochran
New Year’s Resolutions are hardly taken seriously anymore. From Christmas Season to a few weeks past New Year’s, these so-called resolutions are the joking justification for overindulgence. “I won’t eat as much sugar come the New Year,” you might say while cramming that seventh piece of pie in your mouth. “I’ll be better with money and budget consistently next year,” your friend says after the stress of Christmas gifts wrecked his already feeble bank account. And examples go on and on. From food, to relationships, to exercise, to finances, we all make commitments that we don’t keep. After a few short weeks of gung-ho resolution, you slowly drift back into your old, inefficient self. Out of sight out of mind.
While the New Year is a great time to commit to changes, there is nothing inherent about the New Year (or new month or new day for that matter) that makes change easier. Furthermore, many people commit to change in isolation. Sure, your significant other knows that you are cutting out sugar and caffeine, but she still asks for your order at your favorite coffee shop, bakery, or burger joint. On the flip side, you may know that your partner is going to try to be more financially responsible, but you still spend the same thinking, “It will all work out somehow.”
Change happens within the context of community. While each individual is responsible for their own actions, mere white-knuckle willpower does not lead to serious and in-depth change as often as we would like. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to do anything or significance. Most will mention a mentor, a friend, a coach, a support group, or some other person who helped with the change process.
“Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The good news about that quote is that it means that good company can help correct bad character. Being able to do it all by yourself is not a sign of maturity. Maturity comes in knowing your limits and seeking wise counsel to transcend them. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit desires your sanctification. You have the ability to dive deeper into the fruits of the Spirit. From love to self-control, your birthright as a New Creation and a child of God is the ability to live a virtuous life.
However, God and you are not the only players in the change-game. This was true from the very beginning of time. “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The only thing “not good” about the original creation was the lack of community. Adam had direct access to God. He was sin-free, had all the food he could want, and lived in a beautiful garden. He could even hang out with any animal he wanted! (Imagine petting a Lion or a Grizzly Bear.) Nonetheless, God recognized that being alone was not ideal. Even when Adam had union with God, He recognized that man needs fellowman.
Imagine a parent saying, “I’m such a good parent and love my kid wholeheartedly. Therefore, my boy doesn’t need friends his age.” We would probably label this kind of parent as a “helicopter parent.” God is not a “helicopter god.” Yes, he’s omniscient and omnipresent, but he designed humans to have certain needs besides spiritual needs. You need food, sleep, and relationships (among many other things). You need these things, especially relationships, to change and grow into a more mature person.
It’s February, and most likely, you have already given up on your resolutions. Or maybe you didn’t even make them out of a fear of failure. Perhaps your first resolution should be to find some who wants to invest time into you. Whether it’s a friend or a family member or a pastor, a coach, or a professional counselor, you need someone in your corner to help you be all you can be.
These times are weird and frightful for America. We can’t really control the political realm or the virus. We can’t stop the riots. Although we can try, none of us have the power to stop these things individually. People will be evil; the fallen world will continue to do damage. But we all have the power to try to change our own lives. We all have the power to admit our powerlessness and seek someone who will walk alongside us so we can change for the better.
Mitchell D. Cochran is a Certified Family Life Educator (CLFE-P) and the co-founder of Hope Initiative Consulting, LLC. He is a graduate of Lubbock Christian University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, summa cum laude. He is currently attending Calvary University for his Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. He lives in Lubbock, TX, with his wife, Katherine. Reach Mitchell at email@example.com