My email inbox has been bombarded over the last couple of days with messages wishing me a Happy New Year. The messages haven’t come from friends, though, who almost exclusively send their messages via Facebook nowadays. No, these email well-wishing messages have come from on-line retailers.
Some I remember using to purchase something from in the recent (or not so recent) past, while others I haven’t any idea how they got hold of my email address. Most of these emails have a code included which allows me to get a discount on my first purchase of the year. Oddly enough, the generous discounts on offer seem to be very similar to the generous discounts prior to Christmas, which were similar to the generous autumn discounts, which were similar to… well, you get the idea. Call me cynical, but somehow I’m not convinced there is any genuine wish for me to have a happy new year attached to these messages.
Another thing I’ve noticed over the last week or so is that since Christmas Day, the numbers of television adverts by holiday companies seem to have increased in quantity. It’s as if now that Christmas is over (after all there isn’t anything more to Christmas than 25th December, right?) the most important thing we have to look forward to is that perfect summer holiday. While I don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys a week away in the sun, or somewhere exotic – or somewhere less exotic if that’s their preference – do our lives really consist of little more than planning and waiting for the next holiday?
The last item associated with New Year I want to mention is that of making resolutions. A new year: a new start. So we might make a list of things we are going to change, or if we’re wiser maybe just pick one or two things. I’m going to lose weight, and/or start exercising, and/or eat more healthily; or read more; or be more sociable; or be more patient with people; or stop doing that thing that I really should stop doing; or start doing that thing that I really should start doing; etc. History tells us that by about the 3rd week in January most people have already given up on their resolutions, which is a contributing factor to Blue Monday – officially the most depressing day of the year as the mid-winter darkness combines with our personal resolution failures, the fact it’s a Monday, and of course no imminent holidays to look forward to.
Now, I don’t want to stop anyone from making any resolutions. It’s good to resolve to do better in our lives, as long as we’re realistic in our expectations. But while self-improvement is good, and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with holidays, life doesn’t end – or even begin – with exercise and holidays. 2014 will almost certainly have its share of challenges for you and for me, and I am pretty sure that for most of us those challenges won’t be made significantly easier if we’ve lost a few pounds of weight. What will make a difference, though, is how much we seek the Saviour for His support.
In the Book of Moses, after the great prophet has seen a vision the presence of God withdraws from him, and we read, “…and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.” (Moses 1:9) That is the way it is with us – when we are without the Lord in our lives, we will fall. All the resolutions in the world won’t lift us, as we inevitably will fail with most of them sooner or later. Without Christ, who will lift us again? Without Him how will we know what we should be looking for to find meaning in our lives?
I love this quote from Elder Lawrence Corbridge,
“The Lord’s way is not hard. Life is hard, not the gospel. ‘There is an opposition in all things,’ everywhere, for everyone. Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love, and joy; or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone – without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier?
“He said, ‘come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; … and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matt 11:28-30)
“Life is hard, but life is simple. Get on the path and never, ever give up. You never give up. You just keep on going. You don’t quit, and you will make it.”
(Elder Lawrence E Corbridge, October 2008 LDS General Conference)
If there is one resolution we should each aim for this year, it could therefore just be to strive to have Christ more fully in our lives. He is the one who will really make us new, who will lift us when we fall, who will help us change our natures over time, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
So that is my New Year’s resolution, to try to come to know Christ more fully, to understand better the power of His atonement, and to do better at following His will for me….as well as to hopefully exercise a bit more.