The Spirit’s Influence in the Process of Self-Improvement

Feb 2, 2011 by

God's Spirit can help us make goals toward self-improvement

~by Jeanette Green

You can read a bit more about Jeanette, the mother of a daughter with microcephaly and another daughter who is adopted, here.

Now that it’s February, perhaps many of us are, sadly, done talking about our resolutions. Perhaps our ideas and plans for the year, our goals for self-improvement and personal progression, have faded — or are beginning to, anyway. I have always been goal-oriented, so for me, I enjoy the New Year’s tradition of setting resolutions for the year. I like the tradition, but I don’t necessarily join in. I usually find that I have ongoing goals and so I use the New Year to remind and recommit myself to some of those goals I’ve already made. But, even though I’ve never been a New Year Resolution Die-Hard, surprisingly I have always been a bit sad when others have declared their feelings that New Year’s Resolutions are a silly idea.

This last Christmas, after the gifts had been torn open and we were lounging about, I decided that despite the rain I should go running. It was a very peaceful run. There were few people out. Traffic was quiet. The rain softly fell down and the water sped down the hill. I passed a few other joggers, but for the most part, I felt alone in my thoughts. It was the first time in a few months that I had felt that peace. I had uninterrupted time to think of my children, my husband, our future. I thought about what was important to me. I smiled. I even cried as I thought about our daughter and the blessing her disabilities have been in my life.

I thought about Christmas and the affect this season has on the entire world. As a Mormon child, I had been taught that we are all born with the light of Christ burning within us. That light leads us to truth. This time of year, I believe that the light of Christ within us all grows brighter. Perhaps because our spirits recognize the truth of our Savior’s life and ministry on this earth we desire to be more charitable. No matter our religious views, we all seem kinder, gentler, more patient and caring, willing to serve and have more desire to slow down to be with our family and friends. These are Christ-like attributes that we seem to want to emulate during the time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. It’s a beautiful thing.

As I conquered the steep beastly hill, my legs ached and wanted to stop, but my thoughts continued. From Christmas, I thought of the tradition of setting new goals for the New Year. And I had a moment of clarity; it all made sense. You see, for a month or so, the world focuses on the Lord. Some may go to church more often. Some may read verses of scriptures. We sing carols, many bearing testimony of the birth of Jesus Christ. As I’ve already mentioned, we are kind, patient, think of others first – whether we are aware of it or not, we are being Christ-like, for a month – at least. How appropriate, then, is it that we would have the desire and be motivated to improve upon ourselves and become more like Him? I think most of us don’t even realize that this is the process that we are experiencing – becoming more like Him – but I believe that’s exactly what we are doing. We believe that we are on this earth to progress, and it’s awfully hard to progress if we don’t see within ourselves what we must work on. Even losing weight, probably the number one resolution year after year, makes us healthier, gives us more energy. With that health and energy we are better able to serve others, have more quality time with those we love. I do believe that our Father in Heaven wants us to be healthy and take care of the bodies He has given us. Truly all resolutions help us become a little bit more like the One we are trying to be like.

After having that moment of clarity (whether I was able to convey it in writing or not), I have decided to allow the Spirit’s encouraging influence to motivate me to become better – to join the millions who make resolutions at the New Year.  Indeed, it’s a good time to reflect on how I can improve and become a new me for the New Year. And, if I “fail” or don’t “keep” my resolutions, then maybe they will be on my list of things to work on in June – or perhaps even in January 2012. However, I know that in my attempt to improve, I become more Christ-like, and that, in my humble opinion, counts for something.

5 Comments

  1. Heidi

    I love your perspective–thanks for sharing!

  2. I’m one who isn’t a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but it’s because of the fact that I think we should be engaged in this process of self-improvement all year. But I love how here you have connected resolutions with the spirit of Christmas. So then I’m left with the age-old question in mind – how do we really (no, really) keep the Christmas spirit all year long? As you note, the fruits of it can be so good, but I think the fact that our umph often fades for resolutions only reiterates the fact that we need that spirit more in our lives all the time!

    Thanks for the food for thought.

  3. Michelle ~ I know. How do we make this a year-long spirit instead of a seasonal one? I used to have some frustration with resolutions at the New Year because I looked at it as sort of wiping Christmas away — Christmas is over, let’s start fresh. Maybe that was a cynical approach. Ok, it was. People aren’t thinking that, but when Christmas is over each year, there seems to be a kind of sadness for me and people always seemed so ready to move on with their new goals. That morning while I was running, I realized that if we have the right spirit about it, it actually is quite appropriate to start fresh with new goals in mind for the New Year — in fact, that may be carrying on the true essence of Christmas (on some level anyway). How do we make this year-long and not have it fade only weeks later? I don’t know. But it’s my personal quest, I suppose, to figure out how to do that for myself this year.:)

  4. Marci

    Awesome Jen. Good motivation. Maybe I’ll go hop on my treadmill in this 17 degree weather. 🙂 And… love your pic chica bonita. 🙂 When will I see you again???

  5. I had the same thoughts this year about people’s hearts turning to Christ and that leading to a natural desire for people to change, become better, and set goals. What an interesting new perspective. 🙂

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