Good News – Out with the old, in with the new, or something else?

By about this time you’ll have heard plenty of talk about 2013 – some of its high points but mostly about how bad it was. The so-called experts have already analyzed everything about 2013. They’ve offered their scrutiny on everything from the fashion statements of Hollywood’s elite to the financial ramifications of Target Corporation’s stolen credit and debit card debacle. In a stark contrast we will be bombarded with prognosticators who will force feed us with their crystal ball speculations on how “fab” 2014 is going to be. It seems like we can’t catch a break being tossed back and forth from the negative of 2013 with the conjectured positive of 2014.
These points-of-view, the negative of the past and the optimism of the future, are nothing new under the sun.
For instance, the ancient Romans named one of their many gods after this tug-of-war mentality. A Wikipedia free encyclopedia article states, “‘Janus’ is the god of beginnings and transitions … He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. The Romans named the month of January in his honor.” Ah, so that’s what January is all about – looking backwards and forwards. There must be a better way!
Sadly many of us are caught up in this melee of looking back and forth during this time of year by following a tradition that is not very productive. That tradition of which I write is none other than the time-honored ritual called “New Year’s Resolutions.” For the majority of people New Year’s resolutions are not healthy choices and are bad for the psyche.
Here are some statistics about resolutions that may surprise you: The top 10 resolutions are: 1) Lose Weight 2) Get Organized, 3) Spend Less/Save More, 4) Enjoy Life More, 5) Staying Fit & Healthy, 6) Learn Something Exciting, 7) Quit Smoking, 8) Help Others Achieve Their Dreams, 9) Fall In Love, 10) Spend More Time With Family.
The following percentages indicate the success rate of those in specific categories: self-improvement/educational 47 percent, weight loss 38 percent, financial 34 percent, relationships 31 percent. Those in their 20s averaged a 39 percent success rate while those of us who are 50 or older only averaged 14 percent.
As if that isn’t depressing enough my final statistic cites the overall success rate of how many people actually keep their resolutions. Of those who make a resolution, 75 percent keep it only for one week, 71 percent for two weeks, 64 percent for one month, and only 46 percent keep it six months or longer. According to psychologists, resolutions are not healthy choices for us to make because, for the majority of people, they lead to failure.
So, what’s a person to do? Well, I’ve got an answer for you that maybe quite obvious due to my profession, first as former parish pastor of 20 years and currently as a hospice chaplain.
If you’re tired of being bombarded by the negativity of the past or if you’re apprehensive about the future then perhaps it’s time to focus on something that transcends the noisy fracas of society. Please absorb the following statement: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
My entire motive behind this article is as simple as that passage. The main focus, therefore, is for you to incorporate Christ’s “constant nature,” which is Love, in your life. Here’s a positively wonderful statistic: Jesus Christ’s constant and persistent Love is applicable to everyone. Yep, that’s a 100 percent application rate!
His love is reserved for each one of us – it always has been, it is now, and it will be in the future. Now that’s something we can believe in and count on in 2014 and beyond!

By the Rev. Joel E. Sund, the Hospice Chaplain at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.