You’ve heard it for years. This is the time to make resolutions, to haul over your life’s engine and improve the way you live. Lose weight. Save money. Clean out the garage.
Improvement is a good thing, right? So why do so few Latter-day Saints jump on the New Years’ Resolutions bandwagon?
Because we’ve been doing it in increments, all year every year. Ours is a religion that urges constant introspection, constant course adjustments, and weekly repentance so we can take the sacrament and be washed clean all over again. Waiting until January 1 st to modify our actions sounds almost ludicrous, if not downright impossible.
Does anybody who makes a New Years’ Resolution stick with it for more than a month or two? “By golly, I’m going to be someone else!” doesn’t last long, does it?
What really works, as the saying goes, is eating the elephant one bite at a time. We are constantly admonished to get out of debt. And we’re given concrete tips about how to find our way to solid financial ground.
We are told regularly to step up our kindness and compassion, to give charitably all year. As we tithe, we can also designate a donation to humanitarian aid.
Our young men and women have booklets of projects and goals that they accomplish to earn recognition, working on their tasks throughout the year.
Missionary work is done slowly and with constant love and encouragement. Imagine if you tried to condense it into one big January push.
We check off lists of items to collect, bit by bit, for a year’s supply of food and clothing, gradually accumulating what we need as we grocery shop each week.
Genealogy work is done every day of the year, inching ancestor by ancestor to a complete family tree.
Temple work is not done marathon style, in one clump of 20 sessions, back to back for several days, cramming the temple with visitors in January while it sits empty the rest of the year. Instead, most temple work is done regularly as members return each month for one or two sessions.
Lessons are taught all year about how to study scripture, how to pray, how to parent, how to love, how to follow Christ’s example, how to repent, how to forgive— the list is endless. And each lesson nudges us further along on our constant road to improvement.
Welfare programs help people get training and jobs every day of the year, not just in one giant swoop in January.
The Word of Wisdom is expected to be followed every day of the year, not just for a few weeks, when a New Year begins. You can’t acquire good health in one sudden burst of desire; it takes day-to-day adherence to common sense living.
Seeds are sown, quilts are stitched, babies are rocked, and all of it is done one seed, one stitch, one rock at a time. Repetition eventually gets us to the goal.
This year, when the notion again arises that we should suddenly look at our lives and correct our failings, just smile and keep a steady course. Remember, it wasn’t the speedy rabbit, approaching life in fits and starts, that prevailed, but the unwavering tortoise, maintaining a fixed pace, who finally won the race.