A Renewed Commitment

On the morning of December 31, I took down our family calendar from the past year and tacked up a new one, running my hand over the clean surface with only the 31 numbers of January printed in bold. It begged to fill—with appointments, activities, birthdays, and plans. At the moment though, I just wanted to absorb its possibility, the newness and fresh start we hope each year will bring, part of which usually consists of a resolution or two.

I was never much for those new year’s resolutions. It’s not that I didn’t think my life needed improvement. Over the years, I’ve made collective goals with friends and family to exercise more or visit more often and personal goals to get more sleep or stay more organized. Though I’m game for trying something new, the pressure to always do “more” hung over me, ready to fizzle out soon after I began. I hated to say, “why bother?” but such resolutions rarely endured on the daily or weekly basis as I hoped they would. There was never a concrete reason why. I guess I’d become distracted, complacent, too busy, too overwhelmed— just like many others. The motivation I felt for that resolution on the first of the month was not always sustainable on the 31st. Oh, well. Maybe next year, I’d think.

Now I wonder how many “next years” there have been.

That evening, after I put up the calendar, as we listened to our priest’s homily at the New Year’s vigil, he had resolutions in mind as well. His advice? A single word.

“Try,” he said. “Try to make a renewed commitment to faith. Try to see the grace in others and be the light for those in darkness.”

Try. Yes, that I could do.

Not only was his advice meaningful, but it also took the pressure off. Though making such a commitment was very personal, it was not about what we could do for ourselves but what we could do for others—and for God. Placing him at the center of a resolution shifted my focus and showed me that this was not a goal with a tangible outcome nor one for which I could measure success—at least in a traditional way. This was not something I could tally up like the extra mile on an afternoon run or how much more organized the kitchen cabinets were. But it wasn’t mine to tally anyway, and this renewed commitment wasn’t a resolution set aside only for the new year. It’s one I could make every day. All I had to do was try, and I knew I’d see the opportunities God had for me.

That was my attitude as I went out the following morning. Leaving the grocery store, arms weighted down with bags, I hesitated in the parking lot until a stranger smiled and waved me on. I delighted in the simple kindness of another, for maybe she had made a “renewed commitment” that day too, a sustainable one that would not fizzle out.

Oh, the joyful possibility of a new year.