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Just dropping by ... Resolutions in retrospect

Yevet Tenney Published on 31 December 2013

Ever since the Christmas carols began to play and the lights started to sparkle on the snow, I have been thinking about the new year and the changes I would make in the coming year.I have done that since I was old enough to know about resolutions. Tradition has held me bound from more years than I care to count.

As I look back, my resolutions have always centered on a few goals that boil down to: “I want to be …, I want to have …, and I want to do.”

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For years, I looked at the model on the front cover of the magazine with her milky skin, the shimmering hair, wide mascara-lined eyes, airbrushed lips and the thin elegant body with perfect measurements.

Every year I would set my goals to look like her, not thinking that she was 5 feet 10 inches – and I was 5 feet 2 inches. She had naturally thick, voluminous hair – and mine was thin and mousy brown. I would never look like her in a million years.

My body type was different. I belonged to the Marilyn Monroe era – and she belonged to the Twiggy era. In case you have forgotten, Twiggy was the skinny model who changed the image of beauty, and the entire free world tried to mimic her body style.

It is still going on. Models that strut across the stage in our modern world are always long and slender and look as though they have never had a full meal.

Every year, I would promise myself that I would look like her by the end of the year. I would run my miles, do my stretches and try the newest diet plan. I would go to the scales and take an evaluation in the mirror and ask, “Am I any closer to the fairest one of all?”

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Of course, the answer was, “No, you have too much fluff here and an overabundance there.” I would go back to the resolution board and write more goals and punish myself for not reaching my goal. Many tears were shed in worshiping an idol that was truly a figment of someone’s imagination.

Today, as I sit in the grandma chair, I am glad for the fluff. I am soft and snuggly to the grandchildren. The wrinkles on my face are those I have earned by the life I have lived. The smile lines tell of happy memories I have stored in my heart.

The frown lines are those that came with hurt and facing adversity with courage. Life is not easy all the time, and at least I have something to show for my struggle. Get a face lift? Not on your life!

I am who I am and I thank God every day that He has given me the experiences that have made me who I am. My New Year’s resolution is simple: I want to be more of who I am. There is only one of me, and I want to be the very best me.

For years, I have had an “I want” list in the back of my head. Oh, it wasn’t all material things. I never wanted the Mercedes or the mansion on the hill. I didn’t need the satin sheets or the million-dollar carpet. I just wanted to have a comfortable place to lay my head.

I wanted lots of money because I wanted my husband to retire and not work such long, hard hours. I wanted to be able to have money so I could spend my time writing. I wanted to be able to have a car that would get me where I wanted to go without breaking down. I wanted to be able to share my wealth with the less fortunate.

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Well, in the long run, I got what I wanted. The “lots of money” turned into “enough to live on.” My husband is now retired, but he still works long hours because he loves to work. He builds guitars, remodels houses and repairs cars for other people.

If I had made lots of money, he would not have been happy because he loves what he does. I work teaching school because that is what I love. I write what I want to write and share with a wonderful appreciative audience.

We are able to give to charity in more ways than I ever imagined. Sometimes giving of yourself is the best kind of charity. My New Year’s resolution is to express my thanks daily for things that didn’t turn out the way I thought they should, and be grateful for the time I have to do what I want to do.

In years past, I always wanted to be someone amazing. I wanted to accomplish something great in my life. I wanted people to notice that I was someone special. As I grew older, I realized that praise is fickle. People often compliment you for a job well done and turn around and tell their neighbors that you performed poorly.

I also learned that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” One person might think you had done a great job, but a scholar in the subject might find a dozen faults. I realized that the praise of my fellows didn’t really mean anything, but a pat on the back from the Lord was worth everything.

I needed that sweet confirmation from His Holy Spirit to tell me I had done well in His sight. His love would wash over me in a very personal way.

Joy would fill my heart and soul with gladness, and I knew that He approved. I would like to say that happened daily, but sadly, I have done too much of my own thing without asking His divine approval.

The longer I live, the less I want to do my own thing and the more I want to give the Lord what He wants. That is not easy. That takes asking and listening. That takes being willing to abandon every selfish desire in favor of His will.

Every choice has a sacrifice hidden inside. You give up something in order to accomplish something else. For example, when I teach school, I give up the hours I could use to write novels and plays. When I spend time watching television, I give up the time I could use to create something.

It is all intertwined. If I choose to serve my selfish desires, I leave little time to serve the Lord. Mary Brown in 1899 wrote a hymn that, in essence, states my New Year’s resolution.

It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front,
My Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice He calls,
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand
in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

I’ll go where You want me to go,
dear Lord,O’er mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what You want me to say,
dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin,
Some wand’rer whom I should seek;
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my guide,
Though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo Thy message sweet,
I’ll say what You want me to say.

There’s surely somewhere a lowly place,
In earth’s harvest fields so white,
Where I may labor through life’s
short day,
For Jesus the Crucified;
So trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

—Visit the Timeless Truths library here

I can’t really sit down and write resolutions like I used to. I can set goals to ask for transformation, but only God can change my life. Change is a daily pursuit of questions and still-small-voice answers. God will not tell me in January what person will need my help in February.

He will not tell in March what adversity I may have to pass through, but I can be certain that He will provide the strength and the courage to do whatever I need to endure. The catch is I must build my ability to listen day by day, so I will know what He wants me to do when He asks. PD

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