When/if those New Year's goals don't pan out...

It’s been a couple of weeks since New Year’s Day. Two weeks ago, personal improvement was on the rise for many of us and maybe it still is for you. 

We could do better in a variety of ways... 

Maybe you’re hitting the gym hard this year (I know I want to). Maybe you’re embarking on that diet you’ve been pondering. Maybe you’re trying to spend less and/or bring in some more money this year. There are a million different ways to design our 2020 improvement plan. 

And it’s okay.
It’s fine.
It’s human.
I’m right there with ya.
However (you knew this was coming)...

To put my theologian’s hat on, I’d have to remind you (and myself) that the drive for personal betterment is often a mask for ‘self-justification’. This is God-talk for the instinct to justify our existence through what we do/how we perform. 

We don’t even have to be ‘religious’ to do this... Self-justification is when we justify ourselves through what others think of us. 

Self-justification is when, instead of living life FROM a place of love/acceptance, we live in order to GET love/acceptance.

If we don’t keep an eye on this proclivity of ours (and we all have it), it can easily imprison us.
It might get the productive muscles pumping, but taken to a certain extent, it’s an absolutely exhausting way to live.  

It behooves us to know that we are not justified by what we do, but by how much God loves us (and all of creation). 

God is love.
God created all of materiality through self-giving love.

God showed up in, through, and as Jesus to remind us in a profound way that this is so. 

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”
- Matthew 11:28

In that phrase, Jesus is urging us to live life from a place of being loved and accepted rather than living life from a place of trying to get love and acceptance.

So, with this, instead of beating ourselves up if/when we don’t reach our bloated 2020 goals, we can know we’re enough anyway. We can go about our good work with a soft heart fueled by love rather than contrived obligation. This animates us in a much more liberating way. We can now strive and work with a light heart without this frantic do-or-die posture. Our worth isn’t tied to it. We’re not relying on these things to save us. 

When we rely on things smaller than God to save us, we live a very depressed and despairing existence. 

- Tullian Tchividjian 

Turns out, the human soul works better under these conditions. This, dear friend, is good news. 

My prayer is that 2020 is the most relaxed and liberating year ever for you. 

Amen.

Until next time, as always...

Grace & Godspeed,
Jonas