January 1 is typically the day to make New Year’s resolutions – plans or “promises” about how we will do things differently and better in the coming year. Whether it be to lose weight, to exercise more, to find a better balance in life, or to accomplish something we’ve been thinking about for a while, setting a goal can often help get us motivated to act, at least in the beginning. How about seeking God’s help in accomplishing our New Year’s resolutions?
This may sound a bit strange. After all, some of the typical resolutions seem to be quite trivial. But if we really, really want them, then by all means ask God to help.
One of the principles of Ignatian spirituality is that God speaks to us through out deepest desires. What we want most deeply in our lives, if we dig deep enough, is also what God wants for us in our lives. Fortunately, God is very willing to help us dig to uncover our deepest desires.
Asking God for help with our New Year’s resolutions is not a one-time conversation. It is a continuing journey, a relationship with God that blossoms as it deepens. As we continue this dialogue with God, discovering what we truly desire at a deeper level and asking God for it each time, we notice that our desires are sharpened and focused.
No matter how trivial our requests may initially seem, God wants to be invited to be part of our quest. Our initial New Year’s resolution to “lose weight” might be transformed to one where we genuinely seek to live a healthier lifestyle.
If, on the other hand, our deepest desires seem to us to be “too big” to ask God for help, know that God is big enough to hear them. As St. Teresa of Avila once noted, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”
So pay God a compliment this week as you prepare your New Year’s resolutions. Whatever you seek this coming year, tell God about it and ask God for help — not once, but every day for the coming year.
P.S. This ongoing dialogue with God about our desires is also known as a form of prayer. Many helpful books exist for this journey with God. These include books on different types of prayer methods, such as Ignatian spirituality. Also helpful are books about individual saints and how they lived their (sometimes turbulent) relationship with God. If you are a bit hesitant about just jumping into a deeper relationship with God with your New Year’s resolutions, there are also some wonderful books on how to start praying.