Some people don't like the idea of New Year's resolutions, but I do. We often only use the word in the context of our New Years, but "resolution" is a nuanced noun. Some of its definitions include:
A firm decision to do or not to do something -- see: intention, resolve, plan, commitment, pledge.
The quality of being determined or resolute -- see: determination, purpose, steadfastness, perseverance, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power, dedication, commitment, stubbornness, boldness, spiritedness, bravery, courage, pluck, grit.
The action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter -- solution to, settlement of, conclusion to, "the peaceful resolution of all disputes."
In a world of seemingly endless conflicts, I sure like the sound of that. We need more of all of these qualities just now. All three meanings of "resolution" are wonderfully attractive to me -- and timely for this brand new year. So here are my 10 resolutions for this 2015:
1. Love God. We can't really love anyone if we don't spend time with them. Take the time this year to be quiet and listen to God in prayer. My dad's old Bible, which I got to keep when he died, is full of multi-colored notes underlining the text, from his reading of it literally every day -- every day for me too this year.
2. Extend who our neighbors are; whom we are also called to love. When Jesus was asked, "Who is my neighbor?" he told people to reach beyond themselves, their natural groups, and their regular boundaries to the neighbors who were further away from them, especially to those who are in most trouble. My mother's two instructions to us were always clear: If there is a kid on the playground that nobody else is playing with, you play with them. And if there is a bully picking on other kids, you stand up to him. Okay, Mom.
3. Love hardest those who are the closest. The relationships that will bring us most joy and sorrow are inside our inner circle that we are most responsible for. Our wives, husbands, partners; dearest friends; and, especially, our children must be the first priority, the first claim on our lives and time. Whoever or whatever else we are or will ever be -- to them we are really only dad or mom.
4. Build racial bridges. We are at a crisis point -- and a point of great opportunity to heal wounds and move racial justice forward. It's time to help lead America into its diverse and changing-demographic future.
5. Always ask, "What does this mean for the poor and vulnerable?" What happens to these members of society is a chief criterion for God's judgment on a nation's righteousness and our own integrity. So that must be the first question of every public policy debate this year, and we must be the ones to raise it.
6. Support and empower women and girls. This half of God's children not only bears the brunt of the world's injustice and conflicts, but is absolutely essential to their resolutions. The most repressive hierarchies fear the education of girls above all else.
7. Stand up for the reality of climate change. If we say we love God and care for God's creation, it is time to raise our voices over the crisis of climate change. It's time to start turning around, and we must begin to do that.
8. Question every act of war. Peacemaking is not finding another war to win, but getting underneath the conflicts to their causes. We must question each escalation of war and continue to ask our leaders why this keeps happening.
9. Practice presence. Spend less time with screens and more with books, less time with complaining and more with solving, less time with arguing and more with listening, less time with shopping and more time with being thankful, less time with worrying and more with exercising, less time obsessing about food and more time eating well, less time planning and more time doing, less time scheduling and more time living one day at a time.
10. Embrace hope and joy. Try to replace disappointment and despair with hope -- not as a feeling but as a decision. Try to replace anxiety with joy -- which means to be open to all the surprises, blessings, and gifts that we can't control but are offered by God and the people God surrounds us with, if we are paying attention.
May God bless us, every one.
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided, the updated and revised paperback version of On God's Side, is available now.