Tools of Resolution
By Dori Knight
I once knew a girl who embarked upon the tradition of resolutions with much determination every New Year, and who was always completely successful in her goals.
Each year, she vowed to stay in shape by avoiding pork products of any kind. For her, there was no greasy bacon, no spicy sausage, and no succulent pig. This might actually have been a sacrifice, had she not, in fact, been Jewish.
Nobody wants to give up an old, comfortable habit. Old habits are like time worn tools, that fit just so in your hand. The feel of them in your grip is warm and comforting, and you are loath to give them up.
The people of ancient Babylon knew a thing or two about time worn tools and the habits they inspire. This is, after all, the nation that decided it could outmaneuver God in a Tower Building Contest. They were farmers and architects; they knew a good tool when they saw it, and like a bad habit, they were reluctant to put it down.
Hence, the creation of the New Year’s resolution, a tradition started by this ancient people over 4000 years ago. They resolved, at the beginning of each year, to return all of the tools that they had borrowed in the previous four seasons.
I might be alone, but I find this to be wrong in about a hundred and fifty scattered languages. If my neighbor were to borrow my hedge trimmers in June, and not return them until January, chances are he wouldn’t be borrowing anything else from me again in the near future.
Another concept created by the Babylonians was the division of time into smaller, more manageable increments; a concept from which we have derived the modern, sixty-minute hour.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and take a wild guess that there were no busy Babylonian mothers on the Time Management Committee. If there were, instead of sixty minutes, the hour would be divided into at least eighty-five equal segments, and we would have enough time to get everything done in one day.
I have long maintained, it is not that I am consistently fifteen minutes late; it is that the hour is fifteen minutes too short. I think that I shall take a cue from my friend and resolve to be a better steward of my time, and to start by giving up laundry.
If my calculations are correct, I spend about ten hours per week, or twenty-one solid days per year washing, drying, folding, and putting away laundry. Surely, this is time that can be used more effectively for the Kingdom of God.
I could, for instance, spend three weeks trekking across Europe in a gesture of complete self-sacrifice, and hand out Christian tracts to people at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Alternately, I could spend three weeks on a Hawaiian island, teaching a children’s Bible study class. It would be a sacrifice of my time, but I would be willing to suffer for the sake of those precious Hawaiian children, bless their hearts.
Perhaps I could spend three weeks, in a chaise lounge on the deck of a cruise ship, soaking up the sun and praising God for His blessings. Certainly three weeks of praising is a better use of my time than laundry, and would be pleasing to God.
Of course, my family might object to my prolonged absence and a lack of clean socks, so maybe it wouldn’t work out so well, after all.
I don’t know that New Year’s resolutions are a good idea at all. It seems to me that it is just one more way for people to set themselves up for ultimate failure. Any time we rely on our own will power to achieve a goal, we are destined to fail; much as the Babylonians did with their infamous tower.
When we learn to listen for God’s will in our lives, and lean on Him for the strength to overcome, we can look forward to living a successful life. Together, these tools result in a successful resolution: Listen, Lean, Live.
In the mean time, I say switch to turkey bacon and eat all you want, set your clocks fifteen minutes forward, and invest in a good set of hedge trimmers.
After all, you never know when your neighbor is going to need them.
Copyright © 2004 Dori Knight
Dori Knight is a syndicated humor columnist and a freelance writer. She is a transplanted city girl, living in the rural southern countryside with her busy husband and active children. In her free time, she enjoys planning what she would do if she ever had any free time. Visit Dori on the web at www.doriknight.com
LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I learned that if you ingest 35 (or less) grams of carbs per day, you lose weight. I learned that if you run for office on a third-party ticket, you lose the election. I learned that if you buy over-priced stocks, you lose money. But … I also learned that if you lose weight, you gain health. I learned that, though you lose an election, you gain a place at the table of public policy to express biblical perspectives to millions. And I learned that stocks with high P/E ratios are overpriced.
(Kenny Paul Clarkson)
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