Do you know how long the average New Year’s resolution lasts? Thirty-six hours. That’s it! Yet every year millions of people set goals they will reach toward and never really achieve.
I have found the only way to make permanent, lasting change in my life is to look beyond the surface. So if I decide to make my New Year’s resolution to lose some extra weight, conventional wisdom would tell me to grab the latest diet book, maybe consult with a friend who just lost some weight, and dive in! You would hear me say things like, “this is the year! I’m gonna do it this time!” I’d probably join a gym (their membership is highest in January and tapers off by mid-February) and have a weekly menu planned. I may even lose some weight! But in a few days, weeks or months I’d find the pounds had crept right back on, and I’d feel defeated yet again.
I think we’ve all done the drill. I know I have! I’ve set that goal, tried to overcome my fear of failing at it yet again, only to reinforce my fears by—you guessed it—failing! I’m so glad God has taught me a different, better way. The key to true change lies in dealing with what’s beyond the surface and digging into the heart.
There’s a interesting scripture in Proverbs 4:23 that says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And when God says, “above all else,” I sit up a little straighter and pay close attention because I know it’s important! When I think of my heart, I think of my emotions, my passions, even my thoughts. Some versions of the Bible, in fact, translate this verse as, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” God is saying it’s of first importance to be aware of and to protect these things.
Even the word “guard” has implications. If I need to guard something, it’s because it’s likely to be attacked. How many times have you felt attacked emotionally and mentally, oftentimes by yourself?! Guarding myself against my own attacks is probably the biggest challenge I face on a day-to-day basis. It’s amazing how quickly I can go from confidence and peace to mentally berating myself and feeling crappy about who I am. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to consistently fight back with God’s positive truths about me. I’ve learned how to protect my heart.
So now when I make a goal, I take the time to look well beyond the surface. Instead of focusing on the pounds I need to lose, I look instead to a much bigger picture. Do I value my health—really? Why or why not? Do I believe I deserve to be healthy, not just in my head but deep down? Why do I consistently turn to food for comfort? Is there an issue from my past that’s keeping its hooks in me and needs to be dealt with? If I self-sabotage, why? It’s in the asking of these types of questions I begin to see my true heart about health, weight and eating. And learning to combat these with God on my side is the beginning of true, lasting change.
For Further Thought: As you approach the New Year, think of the one goal you most want to achieve. Above and beyond your action list for this goal, think of any thoughts or emotions that could block your progress. Once you’ve identified them, start tackling them with God through scripture and prayer. Get professional help if you need to. Remember: you deserve blessing because you are a child of God! Fight back against anyone who tells you differently—including yourself!