Simply Resolved

Resolve, resolute, resolution. Verb, adjective, noun. So, I’ve simmered over my resolutions and plans for 2018 and presented the topic to you, appropriately, on New Year’s Day. But I did not offer my “New Year’s Resolutions.” I invited you to share your thoughts, yet only one person has responded, only to ask me what my resolutions are. Well. . . .

Good morning, Day! View from the farmhouse — back in Findlay, Ohio for Christmas! Yes, it was a white Christmas.

I was hoping to hear some ideas from some of you first. (Maybe some of you would “resolve” to contribute a comment to this blog on occasion? A few of you do — thank you very much!) Interaction improves JNC ! Nonetheless, I will keep offering some of my thoughts. Hopefully, they will be biblically sound. Hopefully, something I write at times will encourage, challenge, enlighten, or maybe even entertain you a bit.

Resolution, resolute, resolve.  Noun, adjective, verb. My favorite dictionary, the Oxford English, says that a resolution is a “firm decision to do or not to do something.” That is the first definition given, followed by others, especially as used in various disciplines.

Interestingly, in the field of music, the OED says that a resolution (noun) is “the passing of a discord into a concord during the course of changing harmony. ” For example, “tension is released by the resolution from the dominant to the tonic chord.” Very interesting, providing substance for a useful life-metaphor (a rabbit trail we’ll not explore today!).

To resolve (verb) is to find a solution to something. To be resolute (adjective) is to be firm, unyielding, and determined.

To make a New Year’s Resolution is to decide what one is firmly and determinedly committed to achieving or attempting during that particular year. We can make plans that do not rise to the level of resolutions (such as deciding to write a comment on this blog!). These kinds are aims or goals. They are more than dreams, because aims should be plans that have legs and feet — strategies to achieve, even if achievement isn’t met. Well, resolutions can be attempted with great determination and commitment, but still not met. However, the likelihood of achievement is higher if a resolution, fueled by the energy of determination, is fleshed out by a strategic plan — measured out goals. Not all aims, goals, or plans are backed by the force of resolve. Yet, all resolutions require aims, goals, and plans.

I see a resolution as a Daniel type resolve (Daniel 1:8) — a purposing in the heart — a passion based upon something nonnegotiable. (Yes, “resolve” can play either a verb or noun role.)  So, my resolve to love my husband differs from my plan to lose 20 pounds. My commitment to Paul is nonnegotiable. My plan to lose weight is negotiable; other factors impact the degree of success I may achieve.

Maybe what I need is a good cup of tea! (This picture is from a tea shop in the Chicago area. My daughter, Amanda, takes me to such places. Hmm. I’ll settle today for a cup here in my sunny, Arizona kitchen!)

I can certainly see why New Year’s Resolutions are out of style! Not much is nonnegotiable. What roads do we cross that require such determination? Well, maybe many. That would take some thoughtful consideration.

Oh, I suppose this criterion, a nonnegotiable, is an artificial ingredient; some of you will say I’ve gone too far or defined too narrowly. Certainly, there are degrees and levels of determination, depending upon the issue at hand. A moral resolution differs from an organizational one. True.

I’ve decided on one, very basic New Year’s Resolution. It may seem too elementary to many. Maybe it’s just the ocean we swim in, but I find that it’s best not to take the water for granted. So, here’s my one, fundamental New Year’s Resolution:

I resolve to keep on keeping on. 

To sound like a Calvinist, I resolve to persevere.

To sound like Winston Churchill, I resolve not to give up or in. Never, ever!

“Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small  . . . never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Churchill.

What I need is a strong, hot cup of Romans 12:12 Resolve. Daily.

“Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Romans 12:12 NASB).

Did you notice that Daniel’s resolution in Daniel 1:8 was a negative resolve? He resolved not to defile himself with the King’s food and drink. Maybe resolutions are most fitting for framing one’s overarching principles. My resolve to persevere is a character issue requiring that I not give up and quit. It builds courage and virtue. It’s a principle to guide my goals, aims, plans, and strategies.

And I could use one of these. I saw this sign in a building in the Saint Louis Botanical Gardens. It is a room for parents to take their children, when needed!

Many years ago, when I was extremely ill, I considered giving up. Give up! Give in! Quit trying. What does that look like? Depression. Despair. Hide in my bedroom? Suicide? Well, the only source of the “kill, steel, destroy” mentality is Satan, so I knew I was on the wrong track. Danger ahead!

I decided that “to keep on keeping on,” no matter how small the progress, was the better choice. Time would pass. My heart would still be beating. I couldn’t accomplish what I once could, but by doing what I could each day, something was accomplished, and that made for some satisfaction, which aroused some  joy. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) illustrates that I am not responsible for “talents” I don’t have (health, abilities, time, resources). Only for what I do have in my toolbox. These are God’s gifts.

Paul and I had a huge, challenging, and largely beautiful 2017. I’m sad that our two big dreams for the year did not happen. They are dreams, not resolutions. They were not in our control. One was totally not in our control. We simply prayed for it. The other was partly in our control. We both prayed and worked hard for it, though “it” did not happen. Maybe it never will. How we ache for “it”. We’ll continue to pray for both dreams, but I must also release them to His will, and stick to my resolve “to keep on keeping on”.

“Keep on keeping on” in what? Persevere in what?  In trusting the Lord with all my heart, not leaning on my tidy and even biblically sound, mental scenarios, but submitting to God’s mysterious and ultimately good plan, taking one step at a time, following the low beams on the dusty trail in front of me.

I also see a high beam far ahead — a hazy view of “the joy set before”, an imperishable crown, home and belonging. However, the stretch between the low beams and the high beam reality is a dark stretch of the road. Just like every other Christ-follower, I too “walk by faith and not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7).

I question God’s ways. The darkness hurts. So, I release my puzzlement to Him and sit my soul on His lap and look up at Him. I identify with Psalm 131:

Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O [Karen] hope in the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore.

In many ways, God does not make sense to me. Much of life experience does not make sense to me. So, I quiet my soul and I “keep on keeping on.” This is the nature of hope.

In this posture of hope,  I enjoy the joys. I list my blessings. I cultivate a grateful heart. In the disciplined calm, I can enjoy the Joy Giver. Resolved: I am keeping on, keeping on.

And away we go into 2018! Low beams or high, you see I have poor vision! Good thing Paul is tall! But I hope God is our Pilot!







Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Simply Resolved

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Karen! I am good at reading your words and receiving the wisdom, but not good at sharing the application- so I am resolving to reply to your post! (At least once this year 😉

    Seriously,I am resolving to place Christ before complaining,comparing, criticising. I realize that before the words come out of my mouth, thay have rooted themselves in my heart via areas that I have yielded my heart to worldly desires rather than Him. this is such a subtle process and it has really grabbed hold!

    Change with me begins with repentance and then a long a weary process of re-learning a new habit.
    To help me, I have asked the Holy Spirit to “check” my spirit so I can identify the thought BEFORE the words come out of my mouth so hopefully I can identify the root source, repent, and repeat (ad nauseum) and next year.

    Thanks for sharing from your well; always hydrates me 🙂

    • kltolsen

      Thank you, dear friend, for such an excellent challenge! Yes, yes, yes. We need this perspective, resolve, and the Spirit’s enablement (directed energy). I certainly do. And I’m grateful for your closing encouragement. We keep drinking from the well of the Word. Ephesians 5:26-27 tells us that Christ cleanses us through “the washing of water with the word” and the next verse tells the purpose. Amazing.

  2. Thanks for sharing.

    • kltolsen

      Thanks for appreciating! Visit again anytime! My next post (after this comment reply) is about telomeres, which I find fascinating, and I hope you will too! I hope to post it in the next few days (between April 20-22). Blessings to you!

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