by Clark Roush, Ph.D.

I guess since so many people are thinking about “new year’s resolutions,” I will take the opportunity to share some thoughts about renewal. I think we are often confused in our individual lives because of how this word is often used. It usually implies a single “event” – renewing your driver’s license, renewing your car license, renewing your insurance policies, renewing a magazine subscription. These all necessitate a “one-time” occurrence. Due to this, I feel, and fear, that we often bring that filter into our lives when we think about renewing our self in some way.

Renewal is a PROCESS, not a one-time event! I live in a part of the country where we usually experience all four seasons. We often think of spring as a time for new life or renewal. If we think of a season, we will be more on target with how to internalize this concept. A season just doesn’t arrive – it is a process. The snow begins to melt, the grass begins to turn green, the first buds begin to shoot out of the garden – these are all signs that the process is under way, and we can expect renewal sometime in the future. We don’t have instant garden, grass, and trees! It is most definitely a process, and one that brings hope. As we begin to see various signs (“Honey, there’s the first robin!”), we get excited at the transformation that is both occurring and coming.

I think this approach to our spiritual, emotional, and personal lives would reap far more benefit than a “resolution.” If we embrace the PROCESS, than any day is a day in which we can decide to start or continue renewal. If we don’t expect a one-time event, then we can be patient with ourselves and with our God as we renew. Sometimes we’re not even aware that significant things are happening, but then one day we realize, “hey, I didn’t react to that the way I would have several years ago.” That is renewal!

I don’t know how the Spirit works, and never will, but that doesn’t give me doubt that in ways I cannot overtly or quickly see, He is working if I allow it! Renewal is slow. Renewal often involves sacrifice. (We can’t just let the garden and grass go – they need tending to). Renewal involves patience. Renewal involves humility and transparency!

Let’s not beat ourselves up over another failed “resolution,” rather, let us commit ourselves to allowing God to work renewal in any part of our lives that He needs to. Let us allow Him time to do things His way, and let us work on cultivating the attitudes and processes necessary for new life. No one is stuck where they are! We each have a choice to make – we can allow renewal, or we can resist it.

Won’t you join me in a cycle of renewal? Our famililes, jobs, relationships, and churches will all be better places if we spent more time allowing God to renew us as He needs. There won’t be a “checklist” like with a set of resolutions, but possibly the rewards and motivation are better. Remember the Psalmist said we could be “like a tree planted by water.” But also be aware he said that the tree yields its fruit “IN DUE SEASON.” Allow yourself to be transformed by the renewing of your minds, hearts, thoughts, actions, vobacularies, etc… and enjoy both the process and the product!