I know it’s a week into 2017 already, a little late to write out resolutions. But there are still 358 days to go, so I figure I’m good. I wanted to think carefully about what I would like to achieve this year, and how. Resolutions can be so vague that it makes it all the harder to keep them, because we don’t even know where the heck to start. For this reason, I wanted to reflect upon my priorities, upon the values I would like to cultivate in 2017, and the goals I would like to achieve.
As a Christian, my #1 goal is to become more and more like Jesus. I’m not afraid to say it and I’m couldn’t care less if it makes me sound like a religious nutter. To me, it’s not about being a religious nut, but about bearing spiritual fruit (I didn’t come up with that one, but I think it's a great phrase).
To become more like Jesus, I mean to study his life and character more closely than ever. So I have decided not only to read through the gospels again, but also to read (or read again) books that help me know Jesus more and better. I am currently reading NT Wright’s “The Day The Revolution Began: Rethinking the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion”. I will read others, too : Philip Yancey, CS Lewis, Stanley Hauerwas and Rachel Held Evans are on my to-read list.
The issue with sticking to this is that I get distracted easily. And guess what it my main distraction: the Internet. I spend a lot of time on social media. I do not intend to take extreme measures, however, as the Internet is a valuable tool, and social media enables me to keep in touch with loved ones who live far away.
I am going to have a day off the internet, every week. It will benefit me in lots of ways. Whenever I want to sit down and concentrate on something, I always think, “Hang on, let me check what’s going on on Facebook first”. If I give myself a day off a week, I will be able to answer myself back, “Today is your day off, girl. You can always catch up with the world tomorrow.”
I intend to study Jesus’ life and character, but there are already numerous things I know about him, so I would like to emulate the aspects of his personality I alread know. Jesus preached non-violence (Matthew 5:5, 9:38-42) and taught us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). His Kingdom is one where there will be justice and the oppressed will be defended (Matthew 5:6, 7, 10; Matthew 25:34-40, Luke 4:18-21). He told us we were to be recognisable by our love for one another (John 13:34-35). I’m going to try and cultivate those attitudes and actions, through specific courses (I am going to register for a course on non-violent social action and I am going to complete an online Amnesty International course about the rights of refugees). I also want to pray for my enemies - for people I don’t like.
In order to reach my goals, here are my resolutions:
1. Every Sunday, I will keep off the internet. My laptop will be closed. I will read instead from the New Testament and from Christian authors.
2. I will pray for loved ones every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
3. I will write to, make a call to or visit someone every week.
4. Every Friday, I will spend some time praying for people I dislike.
5. I will enrol for the peaceful social action course and attend it; and I will complete the Amnesty International course about the rights of refugees. I will set aside half a day every week to work on the Amnesty course. The day I set aside will depend on my work schedule (it’s different every week) as I will need to be at home to do this, obviously.
6. Every time I want to curse someone (be it a driver who cuts me off, an internet troll or some politicians whose views I abhor), I will say a quick prayer for them.
Have a wonderful 2017. Be the change you want to see. Be kind to yourself and to others. Plant flowers; plant hope. Cultivate joy.