Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year’s 2016: Part 1 Shape Your Life

New Year’s 2016: Part 1 Shape Your Life: Is There Room for the Light of the World in Your Life?!

Before the celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve, before the clock strikes midnight, before the simultaneous kisses, toasts, and fireworks, many people have considered what their New Year’s resolutions will be or if they will even make any. Some of the top resolutions each year focus on losing weight and exercising more; quitting smoking; eating healthy; learning something new; spending less and saving more; cutting back on alcoholic drinks; taking time to travel; giving back to the community; spending more time with loved ones; taking time for relaxation; getting organized; and, reading more. Whether they are goals for greater physical health, mental growth, personal recreation, financial stability, or spirituality, it recently occurred to me that all these resolutions fit into the category of shaping our lives in order to bring balance to them. This desire for greater stability in our day-to-day living can be a struggle as the demands of life crowd out our best intentions to keep our resolutions, which may fall by the wayside.

Yet, the resolutions that we make reflect a yearning for a more balanced life, one of less stress and more peace. Additionally, in the increasing national and international turmoil, unrest, uncertainty, and attacks on our familiar way of life, it’s even more difficult to quell anxiety and maintain inner peace and stability. As a result, many people are looking outside themselves for answers (e.g., purchasing home security systems, guard dogs, and guns). However, these decisions often stem from apprehension and may not produce the results that we desire, because they may not reduce anxiety or they may produce a false sense of security. Furthermore, even non-Christians are beginning to focus more on the need for equilibrium and inner peace; this is evidenced by the growing establishment of “healing” centers and workshops in communities, as well as numerous articles about spirituality in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet.Still, our lives are shaped by the choices that we make, and God gives us the freewill to choose. In fact, each of us engages in making numerous choices on a daily basis, such as what we will eat or drink, what we will wear, where we will go, the types of interactions that we will have with others who cross our paths or what errands and tasks we hope to accomplish. Some of the choices that confront us may be more critical than others. For example, significant choices are involved in changing jobs, getting married, having children or relocating to another city, Province or State, or even to another country. Other life-transforming choices may include a career change, taking a mission trip, or choosing to be in full-time ministry (in whatever form that takes). With the challenge of all these choices, it can be overwhelming to address the areas in our lives in which we desire to make additional changes (e.g., those in the list of common resolutions listed above). So, while we all want the freedom to make our lifestyle choices, we need an inner compass to point us in the right direction to make the best and healthiest decisions. 
We will consider the concept of an inner compass in New Year’s 2016: Part 2 of Shape Your Life: Is There Room for the Light of the World in Your Life?! Many blessings!

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer

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