After the significant events and changes in 2018, no doubt 2019 will be another intense year. We'll likely see more technological advancements that will change our ways of living, more socio-political drama here and around the world, and more modern challenges to our personal Christian faith.
Those are some things to ponder on as we make our New Year's resolutions for 2019. The great theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote these wise words when he was only 19:
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.
With that as our anchoring prayer, here are some suggestions for our personal resolutions in this upcoming year.
1. Refresh your spiritual commitment with new vigor.
A classic scenario with resolutions: We start out with a concrete promise, but find ourselves staying less and less true to it as weeks pass. This year, keep your commitment alive with additional measures around it.
Whether it's going to church, attending Bible sessions, or meditating on your own, try some practical tips from thought leader Peter Cook. One is to have a solid methodology to your commitment (e.g. What days of the week are you going to Bible group? Mark it on your calendar). Another is to have accountability by telling other people about your goal -- a reliable friend can give you helpful reminders.
2. Be more mindful with technology and social media.
It seems inevitable for technological products to take over our lifestyles. While Christianity does not limit us from using smartphones and computers, we are called to be responsible and faithful in using these devices.
There are plenty of un-Christian temptations online, and we must be strong in our faith to avoid yielding to these. In addition, there is a recent rise in irresponsible social media use -- from spreading false or unverified information, to posting malicious messages about others, to typing while driving.
A solid advice goes: "Think before you click." We can practice one better: "Pray before you click."
3. Nurture relationships in real life.
IIn relation to social media mindfulness, have you noticed that a lot of our social interactions are now done online? In-person quality time is now something we have to deliberately cultivate in this era of instant on-screen communications.
This 2019, deepen the relationships you value most by spending time with your loved ones in person. Do something together regularly: eat at the same table, have game nights, worship together. Being in the physical presence of each other helps us lessen disconnects and actually feel the love we are supposed to share.
4. Provide updated guidance to children.
There was a time when all parents worried about was what their kids were watching on TV. These days, detrimental messages can permeate our children's minds and souls through many lightning-fast ways: not just TV but social media, texting, music, video games, and more.
As parents and guardians, we must educate ourselves on the new mediums that our children are using every day so that we can appropriately guide them on their path to Christ.
5. Be a better steward of the environment.
From the Book of Genesis and all throughout the Bible, God has appointed us, humankind, as the carers of the earth. Unfortunately, we haven't always been up to this task, and that is evident in the various environmental problems we have today.
For this new year, take up one or two practices that help nature. Perhaps use your car less often, especially for small errands. Find ways to save electricity at home. Or try refusing plastic products to help reduce the plastic waste that goes back to the environment.
6. Be more conscious of mental health -- yours and others'.
One of the good things that came out of 2018 is the increased awareness and attention on mental health. With the endless resources now available to us, we can now learn more about how to care for our mental and emotional well-being.
We can apply this to ourselves as well as to others around us. When a loved one, a colleague, or a friend seems overwhelmed, we can offer a better listening ear, understand them, and help them find resources that they may need, such as counseling. We can also share some Christian encouragements when we are asked for advice.
7. Let go.
"Minimalism" has been another big word in 2018, referring to the practice of keeping only what is essential and letting go of the rest. It's a good concept to apply physically as well as emotionally.
Physically, we can let go of some of our material excesses, especially those that we can give to others in need. Clothing, household materials, and food are some examples. Emotionally, we must let go of impulses and wants that hold us back, such as vices, addictions, and material envy.
You don't have to do all of these at once. Start by letting go of one thing -- just one thing -- and work your way up to a freer, more God-centered life.
As we usher in the New Year, may we learn the lessons from the past year and renew our lives with hope and strength. Most of all, may we focus our resolutions towards God -- our unchanging rock, our constant light.
A blessed New Year to you and yours, from all of us at Christian Style!