Sunday, January 8, 2012

The only thing I fear


For the past couple weeks everyone seems to be writing about New Year's Resolutions.

They are asking questions like: Do you resolve? Why or why not? How can we help keep our resolutions? Why can’t we keep our resolutions?

One piece I read stated that the reason many Americans don’t make resolutions anymore is because we have a fear of failure.

I agree.

For some, fear of failure is the greatest fear of all. Therefore they don't even try:

Don’t worry about avoiding fast food because eventually you'll give in.

It's not worth trying to get organized, you're a messy at heart.

Forget about not checking Facebook every hour...you're addicted.

Don’t begin an exercise plan because it won’t last.

Do. Don’t. Begin. Start. Stop.

Here’s the thing: most of the resolutions we are worried about failing are all about self. And a lot of them are very insignificant.

Me.

My life.

My betterment.  

Ponder this statement for a moment:


“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.”
- Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

When our goals are to eat less chocolate, watch less television and spend less money, we are  consumed by me.

Those are all healthy (and probably wise) endeavors, but they are still all about self.

And, according to news sources, it turns out that we are so fearful of failing at these all-about-self resolutions, that many of us don't even make them anymore.

Rather than worrying about failing our insignificant resolutions, shouldn’t our greatest fear be that we are going to succeed at those things?

Less time on Facebook. Check.

A smaller pants size. Check.

A more organized home. Check.

Less money spent eating out. Check.

Fewer minutes wasted on mindless television. Check. 

Then, once we succeed at those things, we can pat ourselves on the back and go along living our comfortable, self-focused life. We smile because we resolved and we did and we became.

But all the while we overlook the thing in life that really matters: people.

Other people.

The family member with the addiction. The coworker who just got a diagnosis. The parent who is ill. The friend who is grieving. The child who is struggling. The neighbor who is lonely. The causes of injustice that are too great to list.

Our biggest fear should not be that we’re going to fail at insignificant things.

Our biggest fear should be that we're going to succeed at things that don't matter for eternity. 

At times, even 'Christian' resolutions have the potential to become self-focused and all consuming: Read through the Bible in 2012. Memorize 52 passages of Scripture. Keep a consistent, daily quiet time.

Those can absolutely be life-transforming practices. But if memorizing 52 passages of Scripture only gives you head knowledge and doesn't change the way your heart beats every single moment of every single day...it's not about Jesus. It's about self doing, becoming, stopping, starting, changing, trying, striving.

David Platt, author of Radical: Taking Back Your faith from the American Dream, talks about his greatest fear:

“My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him. ”

Radical obedience isn't about improving self. It's isn't about striving to make resolutions that make us better people. And it certainly isn't about fearing that we are going to fail our list of 2012 resolutions.

It’s simply about falling in love with Jesus and taking care of the people He has put into your life.

It’s not complicated. 

Instead of balancing your checkbook, write a check out to help the homeless...the hungry...the hurting. Instead of worrying about getting to the gym so you can fit into smaller pants, find an elderly person who is lonely and take them for a walk. Instead of complaining about how tired you are, ask how someone else is doing - and really listen to their answer. Instead of worrying about eating less chocolate, take a kid from a rough home out for hot chocolate.

Don’t resolve to be, do, have, stop or start.

Just go. Offer. Sit. Ask. Touch. Cry. Listen. Care.

Then you we will have nothing to fear.

"The only thing I'm afraid of is living an insignificant life."
- Louie Giglio, Passion Conference 2012

3 comments:

Kim said...

Very powerful words, I love it! I stopped masking resolutions because they seemed so unmeaningful. Now I have something positive to focus on instead. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post Stacy, it is so clear, thought-provoking, and perspective-shaping. Thank you for taking the time to think it, write it and blog it!
Pamela

Chatón said...

This was very powerful. It made me pause and read the entire thing. Some of the quotes resonated with me too. Following you. Please follow me too at: http://chatonsworld.blogspot.com