Now that the season of Christmas is behind us, we enter into a new year. It’s a special time, a time when local gyms and organic food aisles are overrun by well meaning, temporarily determined New Year’s Resolution Makers. The regulars in these institutions grit their teeth and tolerate the crowds and inconvenience in relatively good humor, because they’ve been through this before. They know that by the beginning of February everything will be back to normal, and many of those in the crowds will slip back into their old habits and routines.
We’ve all been there. How many times have you gone to bed determined to make a change in your life, only to find yourself slipping into routine and doing the exact opposite the very next day? There is a reason, after all, that the most popular day to start a diet will always be “tomorrow.” Behavior modification is hard, prone to false starts, self-sabotage, and crippling guilt. It can be done, but it is a long, uphill road to victory when you finally transform resolutions into habits.
That is why it’s important to understand that true change, before it ever manifests in our behavior, has to start in our hearts. In the Bible, in book of Romans, the author challenges to “… not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
The transformation we truly need that will stick begins inside, with a renewing of our mind. After all, our behaviors stem from our thoughts and emotions, and until we address those areas any change we make in our behaviors will be as temporary as a January 1st gym membership.
We experience renewal in our minds when we submit to God, and de-clutter ourselves from the patterns of this world. Our busyness, our hectic pace, our overstimulated lives, our worry, our stress, our despair, our anger, our inboxes, and even our social media accounts all contribute to cluttering up our hearts like a fridge full of a month’s worth of holiday leftovers. You can only push that food to the back of the fridge for so long, and eventually the time comes to open it up and start throwing stuff out. “Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus), because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Start fresh by pulling back, slowing your pace, spend time focusing on values that truly matter like family, love, and caring for one another. As you begin to re-calibrate your heart, may your 2017 start from an uncluttered place of peace, renewal, and hope in Jesus!
Pastor Grant Parkki is the Christian Education Associate Pastor at Kenai New Life. You can find out more about the church and its ministries at kenainewlife.org.