“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
January is a traditional time for “starting fresh.” We make resolutions that we hope will transform us during the coming year into better, happier people than we were in the year just finished. Usually, those resolutions are to lose weight, work smarter, and a few other similar ones.
It is our hope that making these improvements will bring us happiness—at least that’s true for me.
However, happiness originates on the inside, not from any of these externals. The true key to changing our lives so we will be happier, is to make changes in our inner selves, develop habits that will bring joy by aligning us more closely with God’s prescriptions for living as stated in His word.
Strengthening our inner selves also prepares us to deal better with problems and challenges that may arise during the year. We cannot control our future, but we can make ourselves stronger, more resilient, and able to react to whatever comes in a positive manner.
Happiness and spiritual calm as goals are not as easily quantified as are such things as a weight loss goal. For this reason, I advocate a “daily” approach, instead of setting a benchmark for a year-end (ego lose ten pounds) that requires daily adherence over a long period of time.
Think about each day as a separate unit. Try to implement the four suggestions below, each day. One of the advantages of daily goal setting is that every morning you start all over again. There is no mid-March slow down. If you miss a day, a week, a month, you simply start again.
What are we doing once a day?
Spend time in God’s word and with God in prayer. Set a goal of reading at least a verse a day. Try to spend more and more time with God, alone. I like morning because it starts my day right. “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Follow the advice of Psalm 136: Start each day with gratitude. I try to thank God for each new day—for having a roof over my head, for being able to make breakfast. Even the small things count. This year, I will try to write one thing daily in a gratitude journal.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a good thing to remind us, when we feel low, how much good there is in our lives.
The Bible directs us to be grateful. Gratitude is a great re-maker of the human spirit. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 (ESV)
Do good. Check out local volunteer opportunities to be sure, but fulfilling this can be as simple as smiling at someone, letting someone go ahead of us in line, saying something nice to another person even on Facebook, or simply refraining from being mean when someone disagrees with us.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
Make things less important in our lives. Throw out or give away something that is not needed anymore. One item per day will help declutter our houses and our hearts. Think before we spend. Do I really need that?
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
Morning by morning we will see His mercies if we set our eyes and heart on God. Each day is new. Do not be discouraged, if you miss one or more of these daily transformation exercises. Missing, whichever of these you have chosen to do daily does not mean failure. Just start over again.
After all, every day offers the opportunity for a fresh start. That’s 365 fresh starts in 2019. Happy New Year!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the creation has come. The old has gone and the new is here.” 2Cor. 5:17 (NIV)
Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling.
Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973