New Year’s resolutions. Some people make them, some people don’t. A few of us keep them, many of us break them by the end of the first week of January. Ah, such is life.
Or is it?
Instead of living with the gut-dropping pressure of realising a New Year’s resolution, how about we choose a softer, more achievable approach to making a positive change in our lives over the next 12-months?
In that spirit, the following are six simple commitments you can make to help you grow and move forward in 2022.
1. Dedicate time to meditate on Bible verses
I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. (Psalm 119:15)
God calls us to read His Word in order to reveal Himself to us and teach us His ways, so that we can know Him and deepen our faith. But the thing is, we read so many things in a day and we forget most of them. Which is why meditation is important.
When l meditate, l set aside time to sit with God and l pray for understanding and Biblical wisdom. Then, l concentrate on just a few verses and read through them slowly, word for word. Afterwards, I take a notebook and rewrite the passage and break it up into smaller parts for clarity. l look at the verbs, which are great activation words to implement, and take note of the adjectives and choice of nouns as well.
In the new year, start a habit of reflecting on one Bible verse a week. I personally like to use the YouVersion Bible App. Once you’ve established this routine, you can increase the number of verses you meditate on.
For the new year, Isaiah 65:17 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 are some wonderful Scriptures to ruminate on. It’s also a great time to be reminded of God’s wonderful character—Numbers 23:19 and Isaiah 41:10 are among my two favourite Scriptures for thinking about God.
2. Think of people to encourage and build up
Encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
You all know that lovely feeling when someone pays you a compliment, a person on the street gives you a friendly smile in passing, or a friend writes you a text to say they’re thinking of you. Well, why not be that person for someone else, and make it a habit to encourage someone every day?A lot of people are hurting in this broken world, and your one act of encouragement could improve their day and motivate them to keep going.
I have a group of people whom I try to encourage daily. First and foremost is my husband, who also encourages me greatly. Then there are my non-Christian friends, for whom l earnestly pray will come to a knowledge of Christ this year. I also try to be active and offer support in our church small group’s WhatsApp chat.
3. Live in continuous surrender to God
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
Surrendering our lives to God doesn’t end the moment we accept Jesus. It is a process that we need to exercise daily—to rid ourselves of pride and demonstrate our trust in Him.
Many times, what we need to surrender are the emotions and negative thoughts that are making us bitter and mentally burdened, and can sometimes even cause us to become physically ill. For me, Philippians 4:8 is my guiding verse this year to help me achieve this.
Prayerfully approach God and ask Him to help you surrender something that is not serving you. This could mean starting the process of forgiving someone, letting go of a bad habit, or even setting up personal boundaries in your relationships.
4. Schedule a time to pray and petition for others
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people. (1 Timothy 2:1)
If you’re like me, you have a list of people you wish to pray for, but you somehow never find the time to actually sit down and present your supplications to God on their behalf.
In 2022, why not start allocating a set time to pray for others? Get up 10-15 minutes earlier in the morning to do that, or after the rest of your household has gone to bed. You can even set an alarm on your phone, or block out time on your calendar to hold yourself accountable.
Or, an easier option might be to say a short prayer on the spot right after you’ve met someone or chatted with them. I try to do this as well whenever I receive a petition from someone.
5. Don’t be afraid to try something new (and fun)!
The new year is a great time to try out new things, such as discovering a new coffee spot, trying out a recipe you’ve had your eye on, or visiting a place in your hometown you’ve never been to before. For me, l am excited to try a new recipe each week as l love to cook!
More than just trying new things, the bigger idea here is to practice being open to newness and change and not let our fear of discomfort and the unfamiliar hold us back. You never know what opportunities you’re creating for God to work for you and through you by getting out of your comfort zone.
Find a pace that works for you, whether it’s once a week or twice a month (or even every day if possible!). Choose an activity that is easy for you to start, where you’re not held under obligation (unlike with a gym membership), and it will be fun to do!
And last, but not least . . .
6. Start on a dream that God has put in your heart
Even as we want to keep things simple, that doesn’t mean we’ll forget all about the greatness of the Kingdom of God. God has called us to many great things—sharing the gospel and seeking justice—all in His name.
Simply step out in faith and make a start—no matter how small—in bringing to life the dream that God has put in your heart. Now could be the time to start volunteering at a local non-profit organisation, approaching your pastor to set up a street ministry, or applying for a job in which God wants to glorify Himself through you.
This year, l would love to fulfil a dream that God has put in me to expand our ministry through selling Christian printables on our online shop, Faith Love Life Designs, and improving our website, Jacob’s Ladder Blog, to reach more people.
Making positive life changes doesn’t have to be a gruelling process. Start with simple commitments that are easy to abide by, and then progress onto more long-term ambitions when you feel ready to take them on.
And remember, you don’t have to change your life overnight; only know that God is with you and is constantly working in you, for as long as you let Him. He will give you His strength to do what He wants you to do. So, lean on Him and abide in His loving mercy and grace.