Learning to “Be” — New Year Reflections

If only we had more strength, more time, more determination and dedication, then all would be well and we’d live successful and enjoyable lives. These are the undercurrents of most New Year Resolutions.

Resolutions that many will abandon less than a week after making them.

What if our greatest efforts to do-do-do actually work against us?

Today our guest, author, singer, and speaker Tara Johnson, shares some insight on the importance–and power–in learning to be this New Year.

Learning to Be by Tara Johnson

Stop biting my nails. Run a half marathon. Drink less caffeine. Clean out the closet I’ve been scared to tackle for the past five years.

A new year. New resolutions. Some of us are determined to lose pesky pounds or reach that professional achievement we’ve pursued for too long. Others of us want to break bad habits or create healthy new ones.

I don’t know about you, but all my good intentions usually fall woefully short.

My failures become just as predictable and monotonous as the rhythm of the treadmill I vow I’ll hit every day this year. Even when I promise to become a better me than I was yesterday, my best is still a broken mess.

Not this year. This year will be different. I’m determined. Organized. Just call me Mrs. Can-Do. I can achieve anything. All I need is a to-do list, right?

Then January 2nd rolls around.

Our culture is so consumed with a “do more” mentality—schedule-juggling, organizing, and rearranging—we’ve lost sight of something quite important. Call me crazy, but I think we’ve got the whole cram-more-into-your-day thing down. We wonder why we need caffeine and stress-management tips to keep up. That’s why resolutions don’t work. We’re trying to become well-rounded people with an already too-full plate, and yet we still starve for what matters most.

Poor organization isn’t the problem. Neither are goals or will-power to see a task to completion. Our daily agenda has less to do with a checklist, and is more about what our priorities are. In other words, doing is not nearly as important as being.

Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?”

For you hard-core list makers, start writing. I began writing my to-be list and, in just a few minutes, I ran out of room on the page.

To Be:

Compassionate

Love people as God does

Less prideful

More flexible

Teachable

Heart to serve others

Wise

Slow to speak

Serene

Joyful

Encouraging

Prayerful

The longer I gripped my pencil, the more I realized I was circling around one focal point, one Person. All these character traits and more were compressed and displayed in Christ. Scanning the list, it became clear…I want to be like Jesus.

woman walking down cobbled roadIn 1 John 2:6, John worded it this way: “the one who says he abides in Him[Jesus] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

So to be like Jesus, I just need to walk like Jesus. Got it. Check that off the list.

If only it were that easy.

That’s kind of a tall order, you know? It’s like saying to be a great basketball player, just play like Michael Jordan. To be pretty, just look like Cindy Crawford. It seems unattainable. Impossible.

Before I crumpled my overwhelming list, I took a deep breath. The Lord knows I’m not perfect, and He knows I will continue to mess up. That’s why He sent His Son.

The idea isn’t to be sinless. It’s to strive to be like Him. To please Him. To know His heart. To let Him mold me into the image of His Son.

So like any good, organized girl does, I made a list.

How did Jesus Walk?

  1. His prayer time with God was long and a priority.
  2. He sought out the broken, rejected, abused, mistreated & social outcasts.
  3. His concern was doing God’s will, and ONLY God’s will.
  4. He battled temptation with Scripture.
  5. He touched the untouchables.
  6. He made people mad.
  7. He spoke the truth.
  8. He sought to please God, not people.
  9. He wasn’t consumed with material wealth.
  10. He didn’t chastise the broken for being broken. He offered them Living Water instead.
  11. He served those He knew would betray and abandon Him.
  12. He wept for people who rejected Him.
  13. He forgave.
  14. He offered compassion.
  15. He loved people, even when they were messy.

This list barely scratches the surface, but it’s a start. I may never be all I should be, but with God’s help, I can strive to respond, show forgiveness, extend a hand, and to love like Jesus.

There’s an old story surrounding Michelangelo and his masterpiece sculpture of David. After seeing the marvelous work of art, a man asked him, “However did you create such a breathtaking work out of nothing more than a block of lifeless marble?”

Michelangelo replied, “It is not difficult. A person need only chip away the parts that do not resemble David.”

Michelangelo replied, “It is not difficult. A person need only chip away the parts that do not resemble David.” That’s what God wants to do with us—chip away all the hard stuff in our hearts and lives until we look like His Son.

A good way to start? Drop the to-do lists and focus on Christ. Spend time with Him. We are who we hang out with. When we shift our focus on “to-be”, our to-do list rewrites itself.

And isn’t that a relief? No more to-do lists.

Check.

Let’s talk about this! What are some of the differences between your “to-do” list and your “to-be” list? What are a few of the “hard places” you need chipped away to appear more like Jesus? How would the end of next year look differently if you focused on being transformed into the image of Christ instead of focusing on external goals? Join the conversation here in the comments below or on our Facebook page, because we can all encourage and learn from one another!

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