We are only seven days into the new year and I’m already fed up with resolutions. Every year trying a new “rule” to get closer to ever elusive happiness. I feel like a whiny child…do I haaaavvve to follow the rules?
The world is telling me I don’t have to. I recently saw a movie preview about the battle between the perfect Pinterest PTA mom and the “bad mom” who is done with trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. Honestly, I’d rather throw both out the window. I don’t want to people-please, and I don’t want to become complacent with slacking off. So how do we balance the concept of following the rules?
I had to start by understanding whose rules I should follow. The rules of people continually lead me down the dead-end paths of chasing perfect or chasing lazy. It has to be God’s rules. He created this place, He must know which rules make it work best. But my ego is still complaining about being told what to do.
I need an answer for my inner whiny child. How often have we told our children, “It’s for your own good,” without even contemplating how true those words are? We tend to get caught up in the feeling that rules are oppressive, restrictive, and suffocating our true selves who are just waiting to burst free. But, say it with me, “It’s for your own good.”
I wonder if this sentiment is something we can actually get on board with. We are living in an “all about me” culture. Our egos are screaming for us to please just do something for ourselves! Rules feel like the opposite of that, as if we’re doing it for someone else – some relentless dictator. I don’t typically condone catering to the selfish ego, but maybe this is our chance for some tricky reverse psychology. What if we use the “all about me” mentality to help our egos understand why God gave us rules?
His rules are there to protect us.
His commands are for our own good.
What if we changed our perspective from thinking God is trying to stop me from living my life to thinking God is trying to stop others from harming me?
I think I can actually handle it from that perspective. It turns out that feeling loved and cherished and protected is right up my ego’s alley.
Can you imagine a world where no one would dare harm or kill you?
Where no one would dare to steal your things?
Where no one would ever consider cheating on you?
A world where no one ever lied to you or about you?
Where jealousy just didn’t happen?
A world where people actually followed the Creator’s commands for His creation?
We’re all searching for that type of world, that type of happiness. Searching as though we have no idea what is wrong with our map. It’s as if we’re so close to it, but we just can’t find it, or we’re not sure which happiness to choose.
It reminds me of driving to Disney World. I just wanted to go to Magic Kingdom with my family. I was trying to follow the map and go straight to it. But as we got closer, I started seeing billboards and flashing lights and…temptations off my original path. There was Animal Kingdom. And Epcot. And Universal Studios. And Sea World! Wait. What if my map was taking me to the wrong park? All of a sudden I didn’t even know if Magic Kingdom was where I wanted to go. It was as if there wasn’t one X marking the spot on my map. There were thousands of X’s.
Society’s map feels like that to me. Actually, when I look closer, I realize there is no X at all on society’s map. It’s just full of false X’s, distractions, detours, and dead ends. We get so busy looking at all the paths we haven’t tried, we fail to notice we are just going in circles. Lost in a maze. In the wrong place completely.
God’s map has an obvious goal. It’s not marked with an X, it’s marked with a cross. His commands create the clear path to heaven. Following His rules keeps us on that path. Free from distractions and detours and dead ends. Protected and cherished and loved.
Embarking on that journey to the real Magic Kingdom – the heaven full of happiness we’re all craving – begins with a resolution. But it’s not like the flimsy resolutions I’ve made in the past that I’m already fed up with on day seven of 2017. It’s a resolution to participate in God’s commandments and only using His map to attempt it. It’s a resolution that governs all my other resolutions – that each change made will be made in light of His commands and with the intention of doing it for His glory.
First, get yourself a new map.
Second, convince your ego to participate by recognizing how much God loves you.
Third, commit. Not just for yourself, but for His glory.
And not just for today. Every single day. This is more than an annual re-boot. This is a lifestyle.
How? Try a daily prayer, offering each and every moment of the day to His will. Let’s ask Him to help us follow Him. This a request He never says no to. And this is a resolution worth keeping, because it sets us squarely on the path to eternity.
Not sure how to start? Try this beautiful resolution, found in the Roman Catholic Daily Missal morning prayers…
Adorable Jesus! Divine pattern of that perfection to which we should all aspire, I will endeavor this day to follow Thine example: to be mild, humble, chaste, zealous, patient, charitable, and resigned. Incline my heart to keep thy commandments. I am resolved to watch over myself with the greatest diligence, and to live soberly, justly, and piously, for the time to come. I will take care of my words, that I may not offend with my tongue. I will turn away my eyes, that they may not see vanity; and I will be particularly attentive not to relapse this day into my accustomed failings, but to struggle against them with Thy gracious assistance. Enlighten my mind, purify my heart, and guide my steps, that I may pass all my life in Thy divine service. Amen.