Today’s guest blogger is Stephanie VanGorden. She has been a child of God for 29 years, a wife for 11 years, and a mom for 2 years to two children she and her husband are hoping to adopt from the foster system. Stephanie used to be a counselor and Bible teacher. These days, she counsels little hearts, teaching her babies to love and memorize the Word of God, and her writing consists of modeling the ABC’s for a preschooler who’s dying to write. 

habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new
The workshop of character is everyday life.
The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won.
D. Babcock
Turn the calendar to January 1—new day, new year, blank
slates—and people get inspired to dream up all sorts of things they’re going.
to. do. this year.

This year will be

“It’ll be so easy with
this simple plan…”

“Join [insert gym name here] and
finally keep your resolution to lose weight!…”

Funny—I saw that commercial last year. I guess
they know that very few really keep their New Year resolutions. We dream big,
and then fail spectacularly. I think we assume that simply deciding a thing is
the same as doing the thing. Not true.

I know.

I’ve been alive for 35 New Years now, and I’ve made
resolutions for probably 25 of them. Have I kept a single one? Doubtful. You
see, I’m the queen of big plans. I can organize and administrate circles around
most people. I can think through details. I can envision a big picture and then
take it apart bit by bit to get it accomplished. I research the life out of all
my options and make sure I’m planning what is best for this situation.

And then fail on one teeny, tiny, little detail:
actually doing what needs to be done. I’m the queen of the
Court of Planning; I’m the court jester of Following Through.

And I think I know why: because I’ve forgotten
that character isn’t built on big decisions made on auspicious occasions. Not
that it can’t start there—if you make resolutions and keep them, let’s talk!
But making resolutions simply doesn’t work in my life. As Babcock said,
“The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or
won.” I coordinated a wedding once where the only people listed in the
program who actually did their jobs were the ones who had to buy new clothes
for the wedding. No one else even knew they had a job…because the couple
getting married decided who they wanted to ask, but never
followed through with the actual asking. All sorts of chaos ensued—comedic,
looking back, but a hassle at the time.

So, in my 25+ years of failure, this is what
I’ve learned about resolutions:

  • Resolving
    to lose weight? Just decide to eat this meal in a way that
    glorifies God. If you do a meal plan, then plan healthy, but just obey one meal
    at a time. 
  • Resolving
    to increase your vocabulary? Don’t read the dictionary in one sitting.
    Pick one word, learn it, and implement it. Then move on.  
  • Resolving
    to read through the Bible in one year? Find a Bible reading plan, and just
    start with Day 1.

It’s all you can do, after all. God doesn’t give sufficient
grace for all decisions at once, just as you can’t breathe once in the morning
and have the oxygen last you a whole day. He gives sufficient grace for each opportunity
to obey, as it comes to you. Make a big decision if it helps
you—January 1 is an auspicious
occasion, after all, and there is something special about
those kinds of decisions. Write it on an index card or, if you’re me, put
together a beautifully formatted and illustrated page that can be framed, even.
Make your plans, because we’ve all heard it: “Failing to plan is planning
to fail!” I’ll even help, if you want me to!

Usually we get so bogged down in the details
that we miss the big picture; we say we’re missing the forest for the trees.
But January 1 is the one time of year when we miss the trees for the forest.
Decide on the big picture. See it in all its glory. Plan for the details.

But then, when the first opportunity to obey
comes up, choose well. For that opportunity, and that opportunity
alone. It may be the only one you get, because God could call you Home…either
individually or—oh the glory!—He could come rapture His Church! And when you’ve
obeyed once, recognize that was only a battle in the war. Thank God for His
grace, and then make a new resolution—to obey again, just once, the very next
time you’re tempted to fall back into the same old habits.

Resolve, if resolve you must, to make your
changes not just on paper, not just by signing a contract at a gym, not just by
joining this organization or that one. If you resolve, resolve—by the glorious
and all-sufficient grace of God—to fight your battles one by one, and obey in
“the uneventful and commonplace hour.”

We make our resolutions on this auspicious
occasion. We keep them only in everyday life.

Stephanie lives in a tiny corner in Colorado where her family serves with Village Missions, a missions organization whose purpose is to strengthen and establish healthy Biblical churches in North America, primarily in rural areas.