Over the past few weeks, I have heard a wide range of New Year’s resolutions. Some are as simple (or not so simple) as giving up sweets. Others are a little deeper, such as aiming to view others through the lens of God.
My New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to simply “hang tight.” I am in several life situations right now where I have no choice but to wait, so rather than constantly trying and failing to speed up time, I just need to hang tight.
But as I find myself already planning and overplanning, willing time to move just a little bit faster, and constantly complaining about where I am right now, I can’t help but wonder if New Year’s resolutions are even doable at all. Sometimes they just seem like setting yourself up for battles that you are inevitably going to lose.
The New Year is not the only time we are faced with battles that seem impossible to win. In fact, throughout most of our lives, we work on conquering personal battles only to slip up and have to start from square one. Whether it be struggles with pride, drug addictions, pornography or a combination of various things, we all have different skeletons in our closets.
A pastor at my church recently gave a sermon on the topic of “losing battles,” and I have to admit that at the time, I didn’t quite relate to the sermon in the way everyone else seemingly did. Sure, I had my own struggles, but I felt like I had overcome them. Sure I had my own skeletons, but they were tucked deep, deep in the closet, and I had since locked the door and thrown away the key.
It wasn’t until a couple of months later when I suddenly and randomly found myself face to face with all of my own skeletons that I realized I’ve had it wrong all along.
Whether you’ve found yourself giving up on a New Year’s resolution or you have reverted back to behaviors you had been working hard to rid yourself of, here are a few things to remember when it feels like our life battles will never be won:
It’s Not About Us
One of the reasons we fall so hard when we fall back into our old selves is because of how we view our new selves. While our testimonies give glory to God for all of the changes in our lives, we tend to secretly give ourselves that glory. We show off our AA chips and say, “Look at what I’ve done. I’m 5 years sober.” Then we beat ourselves up at the first sign of relapse.
The truth we are forgetting here is that our accomplishments are not our doing. The defeat of our sins and resistance of temptations are not ours.
Ephesians 2 tells us that our salvation does not come from our own works, so none of us has the right to boast. It is not our doing, but God’s. You and I ultimately are not that great. We’re dirty, messy and sinful, as are our desires. Without the grace and strength of God, we would choose sin every single time.
The good news in this is that we have been given grace. The good news is that we do have a Savior who has redeemed us and strengthened us in Him. The first step in receiving this gift of grace, though, is stepping back and realizing that we are broken and in need of it.
More Than Conquerors
One of my favorite worship songs speaks the following lyrics: “We will not bow to sin or to shame; we are defiant in Your name.”
The reality of our own brokenness is a hard pill to swallow, but it is also a liberating one. We are broken and will inevitably fail on our own. Shame comes when we forget this fact and are left with the thought, “I am better than this. I can’t believe I failed,” when in fact, we alone are not better that our sinful thoughts, words, and actions. But God is.
When we slip up or have relapses or fail our New Year’s resolution just a few weeks in, it is a clear reminder of our desperate need for a Savior. It is a reminder of our own weaknesses and shortcomings.
Rather than bowing down to our shame, why not allow the moment to make us ever more aware of God’s grace? Why not reach out our hands to Him, only to find Him reaching out to us as well, ready to pick us back up? We can’t do it alone, and the beauty of it is that we don’t have to.
Keep Fighting the Good Fight
It’s hard to keep fighting when we keep losing. We fight and overcome one struggle only to fall back into it deeper than we were before.
We are indeed fighting what seem like losing battles. But in these trials we find growth, and in the end, we find Christ. We may be fighting battles, but the overall war has already been won.
There’s a good chance I’m going to find myself face to face with the skeletons in my closet many, many more times throughout my life, and so will you. But in these times, shame can’t take hold of us. Instead, our God should take hold of us and carry us through.
He has overcome this world, this life. While we’re still on this earth, we can’t stop fighting the good fight because it is the Good Fight. And at the end of it all, God has and will come out victorious.