It feels like the marketing machine goes into overdrive at this time of year, trying to sell us everything from diet plans to face creams to smart phones, each bearing the promise that they will make us more beautiful/successful/popular (delete as appropriate), and all at a bargain price of course.
It can be really easy to get swallowed up by it all and give in to feelings of inadequacy, making earnest resolutions we know we will never keep because we feel it is what the world demands of us.
It can also be really tempting to kick against it all, stubbornly declaring that resolutions are for suckers and we don’t need to change anyway.
As is so often the case, I suspect the healthiest path lies somewhere in the middle. Romans 12:2 tells us “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world” because the world has got the pattern wrong. Sew its template together and there are all sort of bulges and holes that aren’t supposed to be there, extra bits of material that get in the way and gaps in the stitching that let the stuffing out.
And yet we are all works of progress, and none of us is perfect yet. Romans 12:2 goes on to call us to “be transformed by the renewing of [our minds]” because there are new patterns of being and thinking and doing that we still need to learn. God’s pattern pieces come together to create a very different sort of life, one that is both freeing and fulfilling, and so we need to keep seeking to cut our cloth to the creator’s design.
God gave us the fabric of our lives, and loves our colours and our prints, so renewal is not about scrapping everything we have and starting again, but about making the very best out of what we have.
Perhaps then we should resist the mentality that says out with the old and in with the new, as if there is nothing in our lives worth keeping, and steer clear of rejecting the new to stick with the old, as if everything in our lives is sorted. Perhaps we need to look at the cloth we have been blessed with and ask how we can keep on fashioning it into something truly beautiful.
Last January we started looking at styles of spirituality and rhythms of life, and we discussed and experimented with a number of ways of refreshing and resourcing our prayer lives. A lot of that material is on our Good Stuff page, but for now here are some of the ideas we came up with as a community, which may be helpful as you look to the new year, and a slightly-improved-if-not-entirely-new-you.