Since it’s our theme and plenty of other people have already written really thoughtful posts about resolutions, I’ve decided to say what I actually think about them. Resolutions are for pansies. For the weak-willed. For Chicago sports teams. They’re for the Midwesterners who stay in bed in wool socks any time the mercury nears 0, and the people who don’t write 500 words a day, every day, every day, every year, no matter what.
It galls me that resolutions are so indicative of the human condition: limited and infinite at the same time. Our goals are either so probable as to be completed in a month (I proudly announce my newfound ability to French braid) or impossible (be nice to everyone, stop eating cake for breakfast, memorize the entire Bible).
A couple summers ago God gave me Job 38—who endows the heart with wisdom?—to memorize, and eventually I passed the memorization bug on to my mother who suggested we do Romans 12—Be sure to do what is right in the eyes of everyone—together. From there she went on to memorize all of Philippians—I thank my God every time I remember all of you—six months before her new year’s resolution demanded she finish, and is now working through James—humbly accept the word planted in you which can save you.
I don’t have the power to describe what memorizing scripture does to my life. That is why, I suspect, I’ve started this blog a dozen times over the past two years and it still sucks. I’ve rewritten the damn thing eight times in the last four days and it’s still fighting me. It’s much easier for me to talk about other books, like Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, which I started this week.
“What’s the hardest thing you could possibly do?” the narrator is asked. He squirms away from the answer by wondering as I, contrarian by default, wondered, “Why must I do what is hardest?”
I don’t like resolutions because they are either so small as to be accomplished in a couple months or so general as to be forgotten within the same amount of time. I don’t like the limitations of a year (as if a new year didn’t start every day). I don’t like limitations at all. I want to be perfect as my heavenly father is perfect. I want to understand what Paul means every time he writes “not at all!” I want the commands, decrees and laws of the Lord my God to be written on the doorframe of my mind. I want my heart to ring with the psalms, the proverbs, and the prophecies. I may never understand the mind of the Lord, but I will grasp on to the Word he has allowed me.
The entire Bible would take roughly 99 years to memorize (assuming 1189 chapters, each of which take on average a month to memorize). Even if my genes suggested I might live past 100, personal history indicates I’ll flake when I finally do get around to Revelations, Leviticus, and the first 37 chapters of Job. Eventually my brain will wrinkle over itself and the passages I’ve guzzled over the years will fade together and away.
What is the hardest thing you could possibly do?
Verghese says as instruments of God, we are to leave no part of our instrument unexplored. Why settle for ‘Three Blind Mice’ when we could play the ‘Gloria’? The greatest sin is ignoring what God made possible in you.
Possible, not probable.
Elaine Schnabel (’11) spent her twenties traveling, blogging, and earning various master’s degrees. Now earning her PhD at the University of North Carolina in organizational communication, Elaine researches and writes at the intersection of religion and communication. You can find her blogging at Religious (Not Crazy).