Yes, it’s that time of the year once again. With the changing of the calendar, and a fresh 365 out in front of us, there are a few traditions that we all must endure. For the past few days you’ve probably had to scribble out 2014 more times than you can count. The NCAA and its high-paying sponsors have force-fed you a full course of meaningless college bowl games. You’ve been subjected to endless dieting & health club commercials with promises to help you shed those holiday pounds. And of course, it wouldn’t be January in America without talk of making a New Year’s resolution.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that goals are one of the most important and integral steps in achieving positive change in a person’s life. And there was probably also a time in our history when the word “resolution” actually meant something to people. After all, Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as, “the act of determining upon an action or course of action” and the root word resolute is defined as a “firmness of purpose.” Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?
However, somewhere along the way, this powerful term of solemn commitment and dogged determination became more of a weak suggestion or impotent recommendation (remember those two dozen U.N. Resolutions passed against Iraq a few years ago?). Perhaps it took place around the same time that “until death do us part” became “until something better or more exciting comes along.” Or maybe it was some time after we witnessed yet another political campaign promise “change”, only to quickly turn back to business as usual as soon as their feet hit the Beltway. With so many promises broken, and so few people who say what they mean and mean what they say, is it any surprise that we find it so easy to break these annual pledges to ourselves?
So this year, as we begin a new year in each of our lives, let’s go ahead and strike the word “resolution” from our vocabulary and truly start anew. I propose that we choose a different term to describe our new year’s commitment to modify our behavior. Except this time, I think we should choose one that packs a little punch, and includes a true commitment to lifelong change. I think it’s time for all of us to make our very first New Year’s Covenant.
The term “covenant” is actually not a new concept at all, but rather the revival of an age-old one. In ancient times, when men made a covenant, they would cut the flesh of animals and walk in a figure- 8 pattern between the torn pieces of flesh. This action signified a bond “unto death” and the commitment had two components. First, the covenantor was submitting himself or herself to a literal death as punishment for breaking the covenant, thus suffering the same fate as the sacrificed animals. Second, the act signified a death to one’s selfish agenda and ego-centrism. From the time of the covenant commitment, life became less about the individual’s comfort, and more about a commitment to the vow that they had made.
Somewhere along the way, resolution became something you try. A covenant is something you’re willing to die for. It’s that type of tenacity and unflinching determination that brings about true and lasting change in our lives. No challenge, setback, or misstep will keep you from fulfilling your covenant promise. If you fall, you get back up. If you fail, you give it another go. If people tell you that you can’t, you just smile politely and walk away telling yourself, “Yes, I can. Yes, I can!” That type of true, passionate resolve will ensure that you see your goals accomplished and your dreams become reality in this new year…and many more years to come!