Some people dislike making New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps they have failed too many times in the past to carry their resolutions out. Perhaps they are lazy. Or perhaps they have good and legitimate reasons I know nothing about. As for me, I find resolutions at the start of a new year to be very human and helpful. The best resolution we can make is to grow closer to Christ in the coming year.
Rather than having a specific spiritual goal–such as, “I’m going to become more humble this year”–I like to choose a spiritual focus. I don’t want to be presumptuous. God is in charge of my spiritual life, not me. His plan for the coming year might be different from mine. His timing often does not coincide with my own.
When I choose a spiritual focus, I choose a virtue or practice to work on. I leave timing up to God. And if it turns out He has something else in store for me right now, I will try to pivot to that.
It’s best to work on one area at a time
Writers such as Dom Lorenzo Scupoli and St. Francis de Sales advise us to work on one area of the spiritual life at a time. When an athlete trains for the Olympics, he doesn’t try to excel in every sport. Unless he does the triathlon, he usually chooses one.
Sometimes even within that sport he will choose a narrower focus. A skier might focus on the slalom. A gymnast might focus on the floor routine. In the same way, if we want to grow closer to God, we should avoid trying to do everything at once.
Last year I worked on trusting God. I am still working on trust. With my book on trust two-thirds finished, the virtue is on my mind nearly every day. It will take a lifetime to trust God completely. But I feel I have made some progress in this area and I’m ready for a new challenge.
From trust to detachment
For 2014, I’ve decided to work on detachment.
Detachment and trust overlap each other. In fact, when we grow in any one virtue, we grow in several others as well. I have already worked on detachment somewhat in 2013, looking at it from the perspective of trust. Now I hope to give it my full attention.
I don’t know anyone who would say detachment is his favorite spiritual practice. It’s not as attractive as working on joy, for example. But detachment is a means to joy. It’s an expression of love for God above and beyond everything else.
God willing, I will write many posts about detachment in the coming months. I hope to share with you any insights, struggles, and triumphs in my life. I hope by this time next year to be a new person. But even if I am not, I will place my trust in God. For the most important thing I can be detached from is my will.
Share with us: Have you chosen a spiritual focus for 2014? How are you planning to work on this area?