Most resolutions fail because they focus on cleaning the outside of the cup (Matt. 23:25)—behavior modification—without dealing with the internal factors that fuel our actions. True and lasting change goes much deeper, to that which drives everything else—our good habits and bad, our acts of love and sin, and our fears and our faith.
God revealed this truth to me decades ago when I was battling what seemed like an unconquerable eating disorder and intense emotions that often felt out of control. I went to church on Sundays and sang about the all-encompassing grace of Christ, determining to love others like He loved me, only to snap at my daughter, gossip about a friend, and get into an ugly fight with my husband once home. I was a mess, as was my marriage and some of my closest friendships. I knew I needed to live differently if I wanted to experience the joy and peace Christ promised, if I wanted to be the “new creation” Scripture proclaimed. (2 Cor. 5:17).
“Lord, help me, please,” I cried, night after night, making all sorts of promises to Him and myself: The next I day would be different. I’d be more loving, kinder. I’d use words that built up rather than tore others down and wouldn’t get so caught up with the bathroom scale or what I consumed. I’d read my Bible and pray more.
I developed quite a list of dos and don’ts, habits I wanted to incorporate and those I wanted to drop, and a strong desire to follow through. And if I tried hard, if I remained focused on my goals, I could reach them … for a few days, a week, sometimes even a month.
But I never found freedom.
Then one night, after having broken my vows yet again, I poured my heart out to God. I felt so weak, like such a failure. I remained there for some time, tears streaming down my face as all my flaws replayed through my mind. But then God shined His light deep into my soul, revealing the roots of my behaviors and why I wasn’t living in the victory Christ had already won for me.
My battle wasn’t over what I did or didn’t eat, say or do. My problem stemmed from my heart: misplaced loves. Idolatry of myself. Turning to food, entertainment, or shopping for comfort instead of pursuing the soul-deep healing that can only come from Christ.
That was a life-changing moment for me that I’ve never forgotten, one that has radically changed my goals. Because I know, if my heart is right and fully centered on Christ, everything else will follow. (Proverbs 4:23).
Or to phrase it differently: every behavior, the positive and negative, and accidentally blurted word, flows from the heart.
So, here’s what I plan to focus on in the year ahead:
- I will create margin in my day and week to sit quietly with my Savior, knowing anything good in me comes from Him. And I’ll learn to practice “the pause” more consistently—when I sense frustration, pride, or selfishness rising within, when anxious thoughts threaten my peace, or simply when I begin to feel fatigued. With God’s help, I’ll remember to close my eyes, to breathe deeply, and remind myself of His presence, if only for a moment, knowing every minute spent with Him fortifies my soul.
- I’ll trust God to fight my battles. My all-powerful Creator handles them much better than I do, anyway. He knows everything I’m facing, all that lies ahead, and how He plans to use it all for my good and His glory.
- I will learn to live in my true identity as His beloved and empowered child, because I know how identity impacts behavior. I won’t live as an orphan who must earn God’s love, who must hide from Him when I fail. Instead, I will consistently turn to Him, my tender and attentive Father, to receive mercy, strength and comfort in my time of need. (Hebrews 4:13). And I will listen for His guidance, knowing He is growing and healing me day by day and prayer by prayer.
I invite you to join me as together, we choose growth over perfection and connecting with Christ over striving, because that is the life to which we’ve been called; the life Christ died to give us.
Consider that habit you’ve long tried to break, that behavior you’ve consistently fought against. What might God want to reveal regarding its root?
Some resources to help you stand firm in faith and experience increased freedom in the year ahead:
Fighting Fear With Faith: 30 Daily inspirational messages sent directly to your inbox. Subscribe HERE.
Your Daily Bible Verse podcast: Each 6-10 episode discusses one or two verses and how we can apply their truths to our lives. Listen HERE.
Faith Over Fear podcast: Each episode tackles common fears that hinder our freedom and our calling while discussing the truths that expel them. Listen HERE.
Grow closer to Christ through one of Wholly Loved’s Bible reading plans found HERE.