Rarely do I read the metropolitan magazine that lands on our city doorstep, but a recent one featured a topic that caught my eye.
The article humorously dealt with the topic of resolutions. It opened by stating the author's observation that no matter how well intended, resolutions have a short shelf life, and that by mid-January, most have either failed or been forgotten.
But I've seen the power of resolve, and so have been spurred on to thinking about being more expansive in my resolutions, rather than giving up on the idea.
Recently I went to the Oxford English Dictionary and found enlightening definitions of the word "resolve." Among dozens, I found: "to free from doubt or perplexity; to change from discord to harmony; to be convinced."
A resolution I once made was not on New Year's Eve. It was on an ordinary evening in early autumn, while sitting on a bench during a Wednesday evening church meeting held in a local Christian Science church. A feeling came over me – a moment of utter surrender to God. This happens sometimes in church, and frequently when I am praying. I suppose it might be called a wave of repentance.
For years I'd had a strained relationship with a family member. I'd thought and prayed about it over decades, sometimes deeply and even fervently, but nothing had changed. Then, in a moment, I realized that this relationship was not about me and another person; it was between me and God.
In that second, I made a compact with God. I promised that I would never again criticize this individual, openly or mentally. I regarded it as a very holy, unbreakable covenant. It completely freed me to be who I longed to be, and who I understood God made me to be as His child: an expression of Him – the God who is Love itself.
It was no surprise, then, later that autumn when I encountered my relative at a large family gathering, to find that years of awkward distance and distrust simply were no longer present. We enjoyed an easy, natural friendship, and since then I've lost a sense of damage from the years that were strained and unfriendly.
That occurred several years ago, and I see it now as preparation for a larger resolve I feel, and proof that a more expansive pact is within reach and possible.
If the impact of a promise to God in the case of one relative had the power to heal what appeared to be an intractable rift, what effect would a more expansive covenant have?
What if I resolved, in a similarly sincere pact with God, to free myself from criticism completely? Christ Jesus taught, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" and said of himself, "I judge no man" (John 7:24; John 8:15). These teachings hold new meaning for me as I consider the reach and result of actually putting them into practice on a daily basis.
Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper with the intention to "injure no man, but to bless all mankind," wrote of spiritual baptism: "By purifying human thought, this state of mind permeates with increased harmony all the minutiae of human affairs. It brings with it wonderful foresight, wisdom, and power; it unselfs the mortal purpose, gives steadiness to resolve, and success to endeavor" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 204).
My resolve is steadied because God instills in us the desire and ability to be entirely loving. The apostle Paul's remarks to the Romans, which ooze with resolve, confirm this: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 39).