OPINION: In 2021, resolving to be better, do better

New Year's resolutions give us a sense of purpose.
New Year's resolutions give us a sense of purpose.

The idea of making New Year’s resolutions has never been a particularly inviting exercise to me.

Until recently, I’ve never felt the need to lose weight. I’ve never smoked or used drugs. And since college, drinking alcohol has pretty much been limited to special occasions.

I suppose I could shop a little less but I have a pretty big circle of friends and family and I enjoy giving, even to strangers. Yes, I know giving isn’t just about the material. I give of myself and my time as well.

Having said that, I do appreciate the act of making resolutions if for no other reason than they give us a sense of purpose. That’s important. It keeps us from wandering through the day, indeed our lives, willy-nilly.

If you were paying attention, 2020 taught us plenty about that.

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Without purpose, our lives become self-centered, our ways unstable and void of conviction. Scripture tells us that “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Put simply, your talk might not match your walk. You will applaud giveaways for the wealthy while casting services for the poor as socialism. You will proclaim your love for your neighbor while refusing to give up your right to not wear a mask, the one thing that can protect them from the coronavirus. And you will consistently seek your own while refusing to help those in need.

But when we live in purpose, we live with integrity of heart, letting our little light shine, shine, shine. It’s tempting to break out in song here because I know from experience that our overall well-being will increase, our mental and physical health will improve, our resiliency and self-esteem will be enhanced and our chances of depression will decrease.

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Research shows a strong sense of purpose is associated with slower development of age-related disabilities, reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease, improved cognitive health and longer lives. Finding purpose can promote energy, satisfaction and preventive health behaviors.

A young journalist asked me recently how I was able to survive 40 years in this business. Faith that God would provide, I told her. I never arrived at work without a story in mind. I never left my fate to the will of an editor. I brought with me the goods. I had purpose.

Without ever making a resolutions or a to-do list, it’s how I’ve approached pretty much everything in my life.

This year, I want to make an exception.

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This year, I don’t just want to do better. I want to be better.

For me, that means losing 10 pounds. People in my family die young. Not only do I want to be trim, but I also want to be mentally and physically fit so I’m around a long time for any grandchildren God has planned for me.

I want to be more present for my daughters, to offer my opinion less and to listen more.

I plan to worry less and pray more. God has promised me he will never leave me, and he kept that promise even in 2020.

As always, I will seek the lessons in my failures. We all make mistakes. Our biggest failure is not admitting them when we do, accepting accountability and learning from them.

Last but not least, I will hold fast to my faith.

I’ve been criticized for that, but we need faith now more than ever. Not only do we need to see God at work, but we also need to see one another. We need the sort of kindness and unconditional love for others that our faith calls us to hold.

Find Gracie on Facebook (www.facebook.com/graciestaplesajc/) and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at gstaples@ajc.com.

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