I recently posted a podcast episode on New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m curious about how many of us are making them.
Naturally, New Year’s Resolutions are not an Orthodox thing, but then, repentance is very Orthodox! Examining our lives and looking for ways in which we need to ‘get back on track’, changing course so that we are staying on the Path — these are good practices.
“Repentance opens the heavens, takes us to Paradise, overcomes the devil. Have you sinned? Do not despair! If you sin every day, then offer repentance every day! When there are rotten parts in old houses, we replace the parts with new ones, and we do not stop caring for the houses. In the same way, you should reason for yourself: If today you have defiled yourself with sin, immediately cleanse yourself with repentance” – St. John Chrysostom
On the other hand, the practice of expecting to quickly succeed with profound change, all on the power of our New-Year-New-Life Will is not very Orthodox — after all, we should be expecting that we cannot change our hearts and habits so easily, and we must trust in God and ask His assistance to make the changes stick. At best, we will simply hope that when (not if) we fall, He will help us get back up — every time, over and over again…
Hopefully, we can stick with our resolutions, because we didn’t expect to get it right the first time, so we won’t be disappointed and give up on the effort before February.
If we are honest with ourselves, we usually know what changes we need to make. Perhaps the best method is to pray for guidance, asking which of our sins should be uprooted next.