If you’ve ever been a member of an organization that uses Robert’s Rules of Order, you will know resolutions are not binding. Resolutions are used to express the mood of the body in the moment but do not require the organization to take action. When you hear someone say “Be it resolved…”, whatever follows basically means nothing.
Which is why I’m always amused by all of our discussions about New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone wants to know what your resolutions are. They want to know if we’re still keeping our resolutions, and yes, admittedly, by now most of us have given up on our resolutions. Our New Year’s resolutions rarely, if ever, work.
Why? Because, just like Robert’s Rules of Order, resolutions in life don’t require action. Resolutions express our mood. They list our wants, wishes, and hopes, but they don’t bind us to action.
Resolutions can’t do that. If we want something to be different, we have to make a choice.
Here’s what I’m discovering…again. (I seem to have to learn this lesson over and over.) Love doesn’t happen by accident. Love requires a choice. What’s more, once chosen, love must be chosen again and again throughout the day.
Here’s what I mean by that. A few years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We’ve been through the painful process of selling her home in Huntsville, Alabama and moving her to a retirement center in Nashville. She’s adapted pretty well, although she keeps telling me that she’s going to buy a car and drive back home. When she gets home, she says, I won’t be invited to come see her — ever.
But most mornings, I have coffee with my mom. It’s the way I start my day. On my way to the church, I’ll stop and have breakfast with her. It’s not something I have to do. No one has made me feel guilty to stop by and see her every day, but it’s something I can do. It’s something I want to do. This a choice I make. Now, that means I can’t attend most breakfast meetings I’m invited to. That’s the time I choose to be with my mom.Jeannie and I have to be very intentional about our dates. We have to get our calendars together and mark off time to be with each other. I know that doesn’t sound very romantic or spontaneous, but it’s a lot more romantic than missing my time with her. Sometimes, it means turning off the television, turning off my cell phone and paying attention to a conversation—either with Jeannie or with one of my sons. OK, so I miss some great moments in sports…but that’s the choice I make.
Love isn’t resolved. Love is chosen. Love doesn’t just happen. Each time a decision has to be made, love must be chosen…again and again and again.
I think a lot of us make the mistake of thinking that if we’ve made the choice for love once we’ve made it forever. Wrong. I tell young couples when I perform their marriage ceremony, that will be the first time they say their wedding vows, but they will have to say them in some fashion every day for the rest of their married lives. Every day, a husband will have to say to his wife — in some way — how much he loves her. The wife — in some way — will have to tell her husband she loves him every day.
Love must be chosen. If not, then the hard reality is this — love is unchosen.
The same mistake is made by those who follow Christ. Evangelicals, for the most part, have emphasized the conversion experience so much that we’ve neglected the rest of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Yes, being “born again” is wonderful beyond describing, but it’s only the beginning. There’s more, a lot more, to following Christ. Not only are we called to be born again, but we’re also called to grow again. There’s justification, a once and for all moment, and there’s sanctification, the everyday moment of choosing to follow Jesus in that moment. Following Christ means we keep on choosing to follow Christ.
So, the next time you see me, don’t be surprised if I don’t bring up your New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe they mean anything. I’ll ask you about your choices in 2018. Choices have consequences. Choices mean action.
Love is a choice, and it has to be chosen every day.
So, what are you choosing right now? Are you choosing love, or has something less important distracted you? No, you don’t need another resolution. You need to choose.