Mondays have gotten a bad rep through the years, but I look at it as a weekly do-over. Monday is a chance, every single week, to do something bigger, better, or just plain different. I love a brand-new year for many of the same reasons I love a Monday. New Year’s Day is like 365 Mondays packed into one. It’s a day of tangible grace, whether you asked for it or not.
I’ve made (and broken) several resolutions through the years, but for 2016, these are the three ways I am going to start over. Will you join me?
- BE REAL. It’s time to get down to the core of who you are. When you are inside, away from the crowd, behind closed doors, when the lights dim, and you don’t feel the need to perform any more, at that moment, who are you?
Call it authentic, vulnerable, or honest. It’s time to remove the mask, tear off the labels, and be yourself. Stop being who your friends expect you to be. You don’t have to compete with your co-workers or neighbors. You don’t even have to live up to the expectations of your pastor or parents (unless you still live in their house and they pay your bills).
One of my favorite quotes is by Brennan Manning, who said, “You can’t compare your insides with everyone else’s outsides.” You don’t have to have the perfect car, perfect house, perfect hair, or perfect behavior.
Take a deep breath and let this sink in: you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to look like the cover of any magazine or dress like you belong on the runway. You don’t have to read Shakespeare or Dickinson and you don’t have to sing like Adele or Amos Lee (but if you do, hit a brother up and let’s jam).
- BE RESOLUTE. Be unwavering, unchanging, and relentless. People are looking for consistency. The world wants to know you’re going to keep showing up with a similar message as the day before.
We’ve all been dumped, duped, and disappointed by people who don’t mean what they say. Everyone has had a bad experience with the person who makes big promises that only turn up empty. I want to see the person who will say, “I may not be perfect or always presentable, but I am persistent. My faith in God and my faith in humanity will not falter or fail because I have experienced grace first-hand and I will never be the same.” I want to meet that person. I want to be that person.
- BE RADICAL Some people call me an extremist because of my message of messy grace. There are folks who believe the message of endless second chances cheapens Christ’s work on the Cross. There are some who believe teaching about God’s love with no strings attached is false. The idea that no one is beyond redemption sends many people into a tizzy!
People who think they have it all together, often don’t see the need for radical grace. There are Christians who are much more concerned with morality than Jesus. Some are more focused on rules than redemption. I used to be one of them and for a long time, I lived my life more gripped by being good than by my need for a Savior with dirt under his nails and sweat on his brow.
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:
“Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’…So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?…Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
The world seems darker than ever and people are acting out in violent ways, but inwardly, everyone is longing for a new kind of extremist to show up: folks like you and me, willing to take grace to the hooker and the hustler, the drunk and the deacon, the perfectionist and the porn addict, the convict and the churchgoer.