Stowed away in the attic for decades, dust floats from the diary that I kept from ages fourteen to eighteen. Paging through memories of old, I’m instantly transported to pivotal successes that were so quickly forgotten, while years of insecurity surfaced in a heartbeat.

I need to lose weight and stop snacking. I need to get more organized for class. I need to talk softer (the whole gentle and quiet spirit thing).

For years, that list was the bane of my existence because it followed me from middle school to high school, then onto college and even trickled into my married life.

As I browse through social media this time of year, the enemy woes me with his subtle whisper. The scars that he etched years ago jeer, Once again, you fell short in X, Y, and Z.

I see others’ shiny resolutions, and I’m caught between perfection and paralysis.

I can do it all. I don’t even know where to start.
I can balance it all. How many more balls am I going to drop?
I can meet all the needs. Get real, Jen. You couldn’t even find Christmas presents that you bought and hid and then lost because things were so disorganized.

For years, I’ve tried with best intentions. I picked myself up by the bootstraps, packed full of self-determination, self-effort, and the self-assurance that I was enough. Told that I had what it took to conquer anything, including my biggest struggles, I’d start off quick and strong. Within months, I would feel defeated.

So for the last few years, I’ve rebelled. I’ve rebelled from the notion that I can do anything I put my mind to.

I can’t. I won’t. If we strive for perfection, there’s no need for a savior, and we will never meet everyone’s expectations, including our own.

But He can. He will. God is the creator of new beginnings, and He desires to come alongside us with a fresh start. With my eyes focused on Him, I step forward and trust Him with the new challenges I face.

I don’t want to make New Year’s resolutions by downloading a list of regrets at the end of December. I want to live life to its fullest by reevaluating and reworking small, meaningful goals throughout the year.

By understanding that my greatest strengths are also my greatest weaknesses, I’ve welcomed this fact rather than fight it. Let’s think back on my diary.

That same girl who was never organized for class is the same woman who still struggles with cluttered areas throughout her house. Yet she embraces hospitality by opening her home (even when boxes are stacked in the corner).

That same girl who was always in trouble for talking in class is now a woman used by the Lord to encourage others through the spoken word.

That same girl who toiled with weight is now a woman who has lost forty pounds, kept it off for the most part, been freed from that stronghold, yet still eats her favorite french fries (and then schedules a carb detox once a year to keep herself in check).

That same girl is a woman who still struggles with discipline, needs someone to help with accountability, but also knows the Lord desires to meet her in the depths of her tension.

A few years ago, I was introduced to Jonathan Edward’s seventy resolutions. His opening declaration is one I claim as my own:

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.

I’m defining my rebel-utions this week by slowly approaching goals with tangible and intentional baby steps. Then I’m going to find out if my stuff sparks joy, and maybe I’ll find my lost Christmas present too.

Would you care to join me? Come on, it’s New Year’s Rebel-utions time.