Do you remember being a kid and trying to play the silent game? A bunch of sugared whipper-snappers with imminent giggles bundled up underneath osh-kosh overalls. I can see our little group huddled around, “Okay, we’re gonna start…now” and then moments later, “but Sam you have a bug on you!” and then “OH! Now we have to start over,” and the giggles erupt again.
It seems like every time I want to find discipline in my life I have the less giggly conversation in my head of, “I’ll start … right… now.. oops! No, I’ll start riiiiight now.” Then moments, minutes, or days later, “Oops again! No, I never really started on that. I’ll start riiiiight now.”
Still not understanding me? Well, let’s get specific. I’m pretty good at making resolutions. I even have a detailed history of past resolutions bound up in pages of journal entries. Some make a lot of sense and others seem very foolish now. One of my reoccurring resolutions is healthy eating. I am always a very well-intentioned eater. I love my greens, don’t get me wrong (see post on lima beans!). But, for some reason my discipline dies every time at the 4th week mark. I’m not as enthusiastic about my exercise, not as decisive about deferring sweets. It’s one thing to lose at the silent game, but it’s not near as cute to consistently fail at these resolutions.
So, I found a grown-up word for this game. Maybe if I attach a little more accountability in word, I’ll see a better effect in deed. And.. so.. I declare a moratorium!
mor·a·to·ri·um [mawr-uh–tawr-ee-uhm, –tohr-, mor-]–noun.
1. a suspension of activity: a moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons.
2. a legally authorized period to delay payment of money due or the performance of some other legal obligation, as in an emergency.
3. an authorized period of delay or waiting.
[Origin: 1870–75; morātōrium, n. use of neut. of morātōrius MORATORY]
It sounds pretty severe, I know. But, how else will I get the results I want? How else will the resolution stick?
A good idea, in theory, Caroline. But, by definition, moratorium seems to come with some severe authority, to enforce the suspensions, legal authorizations, and to decide what qualifies as an emergency. I guess that’s where you could say I have been the most wrong. I’ve always tried to enforce my own discipline – decide my own moratorium.
And every time I end (begin) with the same phrase, “Oops! I mean I’ll start riiiight … here.”
My hope, my anchor
Every time I watch my resolutions float further and further out to sea, I realize I have pulled out the anchor. How can I expect to achieve any resolution if there is no authority? The only authority in my life – how I hope to measure my days – is found in the LORD. I believe God’s authority reigns supreme, above any earthly power and definitely above my foolish judgment. If I believe that – if I believe like I say I believe it, than my anchor will find its way firmly into the deep sands of the shore and the resolutions will turn into glorious praise.
Because, you see, I think resolutions are misplaced in their origin. Usually, when I make a resolution it is to make my life better… for me. I seek out something I don’t like (my weight, perhaps?) and then I muster all sorts of resolve to change that something into what I want. Now that I’m writing this out, my resolutions look so ugly and self-absorbed!
If instead I resolve, as Paul did, to know nothing but Christ and him crucified, the origin is quite a different matter. I can live for that! I can put my hope in that!
I love the last definition above for moratorium, “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” So many of my me-originated resolutions begin with action (eat less, run more). Sometimes, though, I think I need a God authorized period of delay or waiting.
Listening to: He Will Come by Waterdeep