This amusing article by John Niven in the Daily Telegraph suggests not to bother with the usual New Years’ resolutions.
Here’s the thing, if you’re the kind of lazy, self-indulgent maniac who needs something as momentous as THE START OF AN ACTUAL YEAR to remind yourself not to eat an entire box of doughnuts in one sitting, or to stop watching 15 hours of TV every day, the chances are that NOTHING short of hiring a squad of armed personal trainers to keep your nose in a book and your mouth off the pies is going to make any difference.
The five resolutions he tells us to forget about are: 1. losing weight 2. Giving up smoking or drinking (or both) 3. Saving money 4. Reading more great books 5. Having wonderful and exciting new life experiences.
I agree. If you aren’t doing these things already you are unlikely to do so just because the date has changed.
Allow me to suggest a revolution instead of a resolution. That is to stand on your head more often.
The name of this blog is a reference to Chesterton’s quip in St Francis that a “scene is often most clearly seen when it is seen upside down.”
Since the world is crazily convoluted then it makes sense that to see it aright we must stand on our heads from time to time. In fact all the time. If you want to see with gospel eyes then stand on your head. If you want to see the world the way God sees it then stand on your head.
The fact of the matter is that if you go through the revolution of seeing the whole world the other way around then the resolutions will not be a problem. The revolution will bring about the resolution.
How do you stand on your head? Take most expected, assumptions of the way of the world and turn them upside down–the way Jesus turned the tables in the temple upside down. Here’s an example: “Y0u must always have more money.” What did that greedy old Rockefeller feller say when he was asked how much money someone needed to be happy? He said, “A little bit more.”
That’s the assumed way of the world. It’s the orthodoxy. It’s the great expectation. It’s the air we breathe. It’s the wallpaper. But as Oscar Wilde said on his deathbed, “Either that wallpaper goes or I do.”
Turn it upside down and ask not how much money you need to be happy, but how little money you need to be happy. See? Suddenly the whole world makes sense. Do this with any received, expected, boring, yawn inducing orthodoxy of our dull little world and you will see things as they are and as they should be, and you will be in line with the gospel because the gospel is always full of revolution and not just resolution.
See, a resolution is just a decision to try to be a better person. How dull is that? What, I’m going to practice the piano more? Drink less? Go for a walk every day? I don’t want to be a better person, I want to be a different person–transformed, converted, changed from the inside out, and the only way this is going to happen is through a revolution: the revolution of repentance.
So this is the way to start off the new year. Stand on your head in front of a mirror. That is to say, see yourself in a radically different way: not only as a sinner. (We knew that already) but as a redeemed sinner, a prodigal on the way home, a work in progress, a saint in the making. Begin the new year in a new way with a new vision and then you’ll make some progress as a pilgrim.