The old year has passed and today is the first day of 2010. Millions of people across America have already made many New Year's resolutions. Others will be making them in the next few days. This annual rite of passage is part of our American New Year's tradition.
While surfing the net earlier this week I found a website were some fellow in Philadelphia has compiled the top ten New Year's resolutions that people across the nation commonly make. I could relate to his list since my own list of personal resolutions included several of the same items there were on his top ten list, such as losing weight and exercising more. Most of those top ten resolutions were about various aspects of improving our own lives. And without question, they are things we should be working on to improve the quality of our own lives.
However, I gained a new perspective this morning while watching the news. The reporter interviewed a Catholic priest about how spirituality and faith impact our resolutions. The priest suggested that while making resolutions to improve our own lives is good, making resolutions to help improve the lives of others is even better. Taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing on helping others is a real spiritual milestone worth celebrating. Examples of helping others might include: volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping a single mom with child care, or asking for forgiveness from someone we have hurt in the past and who is still feeling bitter toward us. The priest explained that if we only make resolutions about ourselves, that even if we accomplish them all, we may still not feel much different in our inner self. But if we accomplish the resolutions we make to help others, not only will we feel better about ourselves, but we will also be in a closer relationship with God. Though I am not Catholic, I thought the priest had a great point.
As I was contemplating this, it occurred to me that there are a lot of people who may not have any type of spiritual relationship with God. It is going to be difficult for them to improve a relationship with God that does not yet exist. As they resolve to volunteer at a soup kitchen or help others in some other way, they may also need to resolve to start attending church, or read the Bible, or pray on a regular basis. Developing our personal spirituality is more than a "self-help" fad. It has deep implications for the quality of our lives and the quality of our communities. Obviously it has significant implications on our eternal state as well, but that is a subject for another blog!
In light of these thoughts, we may need to add a few items to our New Year's resolution list. It may take a little more time and effort to accomplish this longer list, but the results will be worth it.