So a question.
Have you ever entered a new year with a resolution (or two) that quickly collapsed like a house of cards? The thing about a house of cards is that it only takes the slightest touch or the gentlest of breezes for it to crumple. I think the same can be said about a resolution made on December 31st. Here is a statistic or two (certainly not definitive):
1. Approximately 40 – 45% of all American adults make one or more resolutions per year.
2. Approximately 12% of all new year’s resolutions made end in success.
Why do we enter into such futile endeavors? Oh, they are full of hope of course, but when the chances are 9 in 10 of failure, I’d say that’s pretty futile. But why do we do it? I fancy that it is our way of continually trying to combat one of the most inescapable forces in the universe: entropy. Before eyes glaze over thinking this will be a thermodynamic discussion, let me just use this word in a simple way: All things move from order to disorder. This is notably true in the physical world, but I remain quite sure it happens in our day to day life as well. Think about your kitchen table, your office desk, your body…any number of things. Everything moving toward disorder is of course a simplistic and clumsy conjecture, but I think that it is the very reason we make resolutions each year.
We sweep the floor, vacuum the carpet, brush our teeth, organize the closet, clean the city streets, throw out old things once loved, all in the hopes of renewal, whether it is brief or groundbreaking. And the idea of the the new year’s resolution hinges on being groundbreaking, but it doesn’t take into account that entropy is inescapable. We will once again be in the same position to make resolutions. December 31st next year, how many will try to quit smoking (again), how many will go on the South Beach diet (again), how many will go to Anytime Fitness five days a week (again)? Well, the simple truth is…half of us. And the other truth is almost every single one of us will fail.
I will not lie when I say my instinct is make a great number of resolutions this year. Why? I think many know this year has been one of the most tumultuous and cataclysmic years in the three decades I’ve walked. It has not been particularly fun, and in many ways despair has been a constant companion. I have lost a great deal. Home and scenery has changed. My heart has perhaps never felt as empty as recently. So coming close to the birth of a new year there are so many things I could think of….to change….but I keep getting the nagging feeling that something is amiss with this road. I could resolve this and that, but I do know in my heart this: am I someone else at the tick of 12:00 and one second? No. I am Eric. I remain Eric, and will remain Eric. And the surface resolutions (that will probably collapse by February) I could make matter not to what is really important – ….and here is a blessed thought: what if a resolution could be made that cuts my universe so violently that entropy doesn’t matter anymore?
Here is my supposition:
I resolve to abide. Yes, but not just abide, but abide in love and as love.
Ok. But what does that even mean? Abiding means to endure without yielding. I call on my hero Søren Kierkegaard once again from one of the best books ever written “Works of Love”:
What marvellous strength love has! The most powerful word which has been said, yes, God’s creative word, is: “Be.” But the most powerful word any human being has ever said is, if said by a lover: “I abide.” …As he truly is the lover, there is no misunderstanding which sooner or later will not be conquered by his abiding, there is no hate that ultimately will not have to give up and yield to his abiding – in eternity if not sooner. …love never fails – it abides.
It turns out probably one of the only things that we can interact with on this blesséd planet that entropy cannot touch is this beautiful, complex and often irrational (yet somehow completely rational) thing called love. But what a silly thing to resolve to abide in it, right? How naive, how childish, how foolish. How does one even do it? Shouldn’t I make a more pinpointed resolution to eat fish twice a week or cut up that credit card or do sit ups everyday?
What if we resolved to abide in love instead – to endure in love without ceasing…or try desperately to? What if I gave myself over the notion that the best possible thing I could do is love….everyone. To be a slave not to entropy but to something that clears it away like a great flood.
Many will recognize this poignant moment:
“I had power over nothing.” Tom’s character resolved to kill himself because of his circumstance. He wanted control, as we do each December 31st. We want to get control of everything in our life….and we do….for a few days. But we are subject to a will not our own. We are privy to decay and time…and great loss. How many resolutions will it take to recognize it? This isn’t a resolution to “get better” or “be healthier” or “change.” It is a resolution to be. To not lose hope. To not drown in dark water’s of despair.
So, I must keep breathing, abide, watch for the tide to change. I know I will lose again, I know I will fail, struggle, succeed again, win, be fulfilled. I know I will meet and say goodbye. I know I will lose control, desperately want to gain control. But to resolve to love, to give everything of myself to all I meet and am given – my family, my friends, my enemies, random though they all seem sometimes – even though I may not want to. What better resolution could I make?
To all. I wish only the best of things this upcoming year. I do know the best of things won’t come to all of us, though. We were never guaranteed it, although our hope should never cease. May the Creator of this universe bless you, mostly because I believe in the depths of my heart that he wants to. To be sure his love, which is the perfection of abiding, is what is holding us together. His love is gravity.