According to Webster the word Resolution means “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.” I find this interesting because this tells us as we look at our culture what we tend to think our problems are. The solutions to many of our problems are to drop 20 pounds, stop eating sugar, exercise daily, quit online shopping and wake up earlier than we have been because then maybe if we do all of these things our problems will be solved. Every year in January, we decide this is the time to get our life in order, change our ways and make new what has gotten so very old. So we set New Year’s Resolutions. And when we do, we are in essence saying “Hey maybe if I do this, I will solve my problems.” We might not think that’s what we are saying, but that’s what we are saying. “If I organize that room that could be highlighted in Hoarder’s, that will resolve my problems. If I fit in a smaller size jean, that will make my dating life show up. If I stop watching so much TV and start reading novels the size of dictionaries, I I won’t feel like I am wasting my life.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, many of these things might be healthy habits that many of us could stand to live into, but what is really wrong with New Year’s resolutions is this: These are not the answers to your problems! Your problem is not how fat you are. (But this is coming from a woman to could stand to lose some LB’s.) Your problem is not being disorganized. Your problem is not TV. Your problem is not binge eating. Your problem is not a dry well of men to date and being too ugly to atract the two single men alive on the planet. Your problem is not being lazy. Your problem is not drinking too much.
You are reading this thinking, “How does this woman know what my problem is?” (Said with teenage angst) I don’t, but I do know this…I know that the thing you think will solve your problem is not usually actually your problem. We have to be a people who go deeper. If I eat too much, my problem is not eating too much, my problem is something deeper. What is it? Maybe it’s a way to self soothe when I am feeling lonely. Maybe it is the one thing I can control because I can’t control anything else. If the first were true, my problem is not overeating, my problem is a deep rooted feeling of loneliness and a misguided understanding that turning to food will take that nagging feeling away. But rather than looking at the actual problem, we locate the problem on a severely shallow level. We say I have an eating problem. So we stop eating gluten, sugar, and fat and find ourselves gnawing on carrot sticks and even if it works and we get used to eating like rabbits and looking good in jeans, we have not dealt with the deeply rooted problem. And so we are still lonely. And our loneliness does weird things to us… Like… turning to trying too hard in relationships or controlling our circumstances or birthing an eating disorder.
Now this is one example. The point is this: When you resolve to do something, you are saying that is the answer to your problem and I would challenge us to be a deeper people who ask the question, “What is actually my problem?” Maybe your problem isn’t drinking, maybe it’s deep unresolved pain from your past and the wine won’t heal you, it will only numb you, which leaves you never getting whole. Maybe your problem isn’t being lazy, maybe your problem is that you are not living a purposed life. And so then your solution isn’t to just get off the couch, but instead to discover purpose! Maybe your problem isn’t sexual promiscuity, maybe it’s a deep desire to feel chosen and loved and sleeping around just keeps leaving you feeling unchosen and unlovable. Maybe it’s a heart problem.
Resolve to get to the root of your problem. Don’t resolve to solve your problems with shallow band aids that leave you worse off! Jesus always got to the root of the issue with people. Jesus starts there with people. And God knows what our issues are and He desires to fully make us whole- to truly resolve our problems. The problem is that we usually misdefine them and then we try to resolve them ourselves. And here Jesus stands saying, I will help you.
I think of the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus goes out of His way to meet this woman. She is at a well filling up her water jar and Jesus strikes up a conversation with her. She wonders why He is even talking to her because Jewish people didn’t talk to Samaritans and she was one. And men didn’t talk to women and here Jesus is chatting with her. Jesus tells her to go get her husband and she says “I have no husband.” And He says, “You are right when you say you have no husband because you have been with man after man after man after man.” This woman is blown away that Jesus knows everything about her life and her “problems”. But Jesus doesn’t say, “Hey, you need to resolve to stop sleeping around and getting divorced! You are a slut and you need to start living like a prude!” He begins with the root of her problem. Jesus basically shows this woman who she has been turning to in order to fulfill that deep longing she has within her…Men. And then He invites her to drink of Him. Jesus says in a sense, “I have water that if you drink, you will no longer thirst. This water that I have will fill you up so much so that it will overflow!”
Jesus goes to the root of the problem. He doesn’t waste her time and wants more for her. Her problem was her thirst and she was drinking in all the wrong places. You don’t see Jesus suggesting shallow band aids that distract this woman into further issues that create more thirst! So, why are we as God’s children trying to resolve our problems with shallow attempts that wound us even more and leave us deeply parched?
My challenge to each of us this year is this: If you are going to resolve anything, RESOLVE to get to the root of your problems and allow God to go there with you. It is then that we will leave our water jar at the well that just never seems to quench as this woman did, and actually live changed lives!