I love New things- new days, new weeks, new months, and especially new years! I love the thought of starting fresh and starting over and of course I LOVE resolutions. It's crazy how much I love goals and plans. It's a big part of being an ENTJ personality type. I have the typical resolutions like flossing every day, drinking more water, keeping all of my plants alive (you'd think that being a floral designer for 10 years would mean that I would be great at this but I so am not!)
But besides all those surface goals I have 1 main deep down, in-my-heart goal this year, and that is to live and walk by the Holy Spirit every day. I started praying this a lot this past summer but I never really grabbed a hold of it and I am learning that I just can't afford not to. To put it simply, I want ALL of the fruits of Spirit evident in my life which means there are certain things that I need to change.
Galatians 5:16-26 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
One of my every-year resolutions and most typical one is to lose weight. ALL MY LIFE I have struggled with losing weight. I lost 50 lbs 2 years ago and it felt like I had victory over it once and for all. Well this fall and winter I gained back 20 of the 50! I learned that I most definitely am a stress eater. Ryan and I have referred to our new home as the promised land several times throughout the whole process of house hunting/buying because we know the Lord promised it to us but let me tell you, since June it was some serious wilderness walking and wall breaking which led to lots and lots of stress. That being said, this New Year I realized that my lifestyle needs to change and I need some serious self control even if the craziness and the stress somewhat remains.
So speaking of struggles.... I am going to get ugly and raw here. Since I started my art business I have dealt with some pretty lousy thoughts and lies that I know the devil attacks me with on a without-fail, DAILY basis. Thoughts of comparing myself to other artists and designers, not feeling good enough, feeling like an amateur and silly for having a business, super frustrated I don't have time to practice and create art like I should and want to while others are creating beautiful work and just comparing, comparing, and more comparing. It's not that I have a lack of self confidence, it's in fact the exact opposite. It's the constant competition, the need to be better - no actually, the need to be the best, and not only the best, but the first and the last too. I am big time prideful and it is frankly destroying me.
My sister, Amy is a very wise and spiritually minded person and we speak to each other a lot about our weight struggles and other issues. One day when we were talking about the fruit of the Spirit, she told me about this book, how it referred to the fruits like a string of Christmas lights. If one light is out, all the rest are out with it. After hearing this, I literally wanted to slap myself in the head and say, HELLOOOOO!?!?! Of course I am not seeing self control evident in my life because pride, envy, and jealousy (opposite of love, joy and peace) are consuming me and preventing me from the freedom that God has to offer! It was a pretty clear wakeup call that was much needed.
Thankfully I can say that God is working on my heart and I do feel that only by the Grace of God, He has helped me to strip away the jealousy and comparisons and pride but it definitely is a process and something I still deal with EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm not going to lie- it gets very overwhelming. I feel silly admitting it and I ask my husband all the time what's wrong with me. These problems I am going through are NOTHING compared to world hunger and homelessness but that's the point. GOD DOESN'T COMPARE SO WE NEED TO STOP COMPARING. Our menial problems are hugely important to Him and through realizing that and casting your cares on Him, He will set You free.
C.S. Lewis wrote about pride being the greatest sin in his book, Mere Christianity. The Great Sin is a condensed version of it that I highly suggest you read if you haven't before. It's so good, so true and unfortunately so me. Praise God that He loves me despite my shortcomings.
So I don't know where you are. I don't know if there are struggles in your life that you can't ever seem to conquer and you feel like every new year you are saying the same old resolution. But if you are, maybe the struggle is just a symptom of something much bigger than you realize? You don't have to be ashamed. Everyone struggles and we all have our issues but praise God that He loves us just the way we are and that he has provided a way through Jesus that we can be FREE and NEW!
My prayer for you this New Year is that the Lord reveals to you areas where you need to surrender to Him and in doing so, you will experience all the love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in every aspect of your life!