When I was serving as a stake president, there was a wonderful senior couple who came to me and expressed that they had just made a resolution to go on a mission. I then rejoiced with their decision and indicated that I would start helping them fill out the papers to begin the process. “We can’t go now,” they said. “We still need to help more of our children and grandchildren. Also, we want to finish our second home, so we can rent it and have another source of income.” I felt that was OK and told them that they could plan on going the next year.
A new year came, and the couple still had the objective of serving a mission but with the old justifications, plus some added ones for not going. This made them postpone for one more year and then one more till they almost reached a decade of showing good intentions. Suddenly the wife passed away, being followed by him not long after.
When a new year comes, almost everyone sets New Year’s resolutions with very good intentions, but as the year passes, most of these resolutions become only wishes which then become good intentions for the next year. Perhaps the root cause for such a pattern resides in the fact that most objectives are established without consulting with the Lord, not remembering that the Savior and His Atonement are able to take us to the next level if we’re also willing to act and not just wait to be acted upon.
In the Book of Mormon, we learn: “And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26).
Therefore, in order to have the Atonement of Jesus Christ be effective in our lives, we must be willing to act, and that should reflect in our objectives for the year.
A goal such as “Lose 10 Kg” sounds like the desire of an object which wants to be acted upon and makes no effort to achieve the desired result. That objective will not draw the powers from heaven to cause change! But if the goal is stated as “I will obey the Word of Wisdom by eating properly, exercising, and getting proper rest in order to lose 10 kg”, that is more likely to have the expected outcome.
The way we conceive and write down our aspirations will denote how much we are exercising faith in the Savior and His Atonement and are willing to act. Expressing, “Be more spiritual this year” will not necessarily bring more spirituality, but “Pray three times a day and study the scriptures 20 minutes every morning” will.
Nephi had the commandment and objective of building a ship and was confident he could learn the skills to make the tools and build this ship. Unfortunately, he didn’t know where to find the minerals to make the tools, so he prayed, “Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?” (1 Nephi 17:9). His faith in the Lord and desire to act made him successful in achieving the objective of making the tools and building the ship which would take them to a new land.
As we ponder about the New Year’s resolutions, let us include the Lord in setting and establishing our objectives. We do that by exercising faith in the Savior and His Atonement, thus believing that we can actually change and improve. May we also express in our goals our willingness to act. Through this faith, associated with action, we’ll be empowered to achieve our highest dreams and experience full joy.