Resolutions or Prayers? You Decide!

By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.


newyearsresolutionsWith Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, if you haven’t already it’s time to start thinking about the seemingly inevitable subject of new year’s resolutions.

You know, stuff like resolving to be a better person, changing jobs, quitting smoking, eating less and exercising more, or some other personal goal that we hope to achieve in the upcoming year. While we all know that usually these well-intentioned resolutions don’t last past the first few days of January, we keep on making them all the same.

It’s no secret that intending to eat less and exercise more are probably two of the most popular resolutions. Sometimes the resolve to exercise more is motivated by a well-meaning relative or friend giving a gym membership, or perhaps a gift of a half-dozen lessons with a trainer.

I was talking some time ago with people at the gym about how the first two or three weeks of January are always bustling with new members, and then as the month wears on the number of newbies plummets. And as that resolution to exercise more falls by the wayside, many times so do those lessons with the trainer. The new year quickly turns into just another year, with all those good intentions put off till next year.

With resolutions generally being such a dismal failure, I was wondering how (and why) we came up with the concept. With that in mind, I did a little online research about new year’s resolutions and found that the tradition dates back over four thousand years to the time of the early Babylonians.

Apparently the most popular resolution back then for the Babylonians was to return borrowed farm equipment. To correspond with the spring planting of their crops, the Babylonians celebrated in March rather than in January.

I also checked out a U.S. government site, which listed a number of popular resolutions and corresponding links to help in their fulfillment. Although in no apparent order, last on the list that year was to volunteer to help others. Top of the list was to drink less alcohol.

I wondered how new year’s resolutions from members of our Joy Junction life recovery program stacked up with the typical resolutions which we all make and break.

I was reminded of a story I wrote last year about new year’s resolutions, in which a participant told a former Joy Junction staff member that he doesn’t make new year’s resolutions, as to do so would be to “set myself up for failure.”

That staff member’s response was, “No blame there. Coming from a recovery perspective, ‘resolving’ to do anything sounds like attempting to dig a tunnel through a mountain with a spoon.”

However, others do make simple and poignant resolutions, and like those I recalled from last year, some of those listed for 2015 almost sounded like prayers.

Respondents wrote their resolutions, and turned them into program instructor Denis Billy.

One anonymous respondent said that during 2015, “I really want to get my stuff and my family together. I want to grab a hold of life, and work on getting my husband back into the program so we can both do a good for the baby that we’re about to have. I believe that God will bring us back together.”

She added, “2014 was a life learning experience which taught me the power of God at work. I also learned that I want to leave drugs and worthless people.”

Naomi said that 2014 was a big turning point in her life. She and her husband reunited after a year of separation. I

In addition, they stopped using drugs, stopped gambling, “and are trying to get our lives and family back to some kind of normalcy.”

Without Joy Junction, Naomi continued, none of that would have happened. She wants to continue on that path for the year ahead..

“I also hope to establish positive relationships with our other kids and grand kids-one more time and keep it that way. I (also) want to continue working on our family, marriage, and getting our lives outside of JJ together.”

Jami said that her new year’s resolution is to be a better person, a good mom and not to relapse during 2015.

She added, “ I hope that my husband can come back with my newborn son, and that I can get my kids back this year.”

Tracy said she feels that she made it through 2014 “by the grace of God.”

For 2015, her new year’s resolution is to stay clean and sober and get back on her feet, along with her husband. They also want to graduate from our life recovery program.

Another poignant wish, resolution or prayer (depending which way you look at it) was, “I also would like to remove all ill feelings from my heart.”

Yvonne’s resolution was simple but profound. She said that she feel bad about 2014 and what she put her family through, “because of my addiction to meth and hopping from motel to motel.”

Now, she said, her family has more stability at Joy Junction and she knows the new year marks a new start. She said what she wants for 2015 “is to stay clean from my addiction to meth and to become a better mother and wife, to complete the (life recovery) program without relapsing and to stay drug free.”

For another life recovery program participant, 2014 was a hard year.

This woman wrote, “It was a year of learning, loss, fear, hurt and pain. But, it was also a year that I made a choice to give up on the flesh, my wants and my needs so that I can turn my life, my will, and my heart over to God and allow Him to have control of it all and be given a new spiritual birth.”

She added, “With God as my father and my teacher in 2015, my goal is to experience endless recovery from my past and let Him lead me where and who I need to be. I am ready for the change. I want to give Him control, and allow him to make me into the woman that He made me to be.”

Another respondent seemed to sum up the experience of many of our guests and program participants.

That person wrote that 2014 started with a hangover, adding “I drank everyday until I came here to JJ. I started the program with a bad attitude, but later came to see what a blessing that it really is. It showed me how to be responsible for myself and others.”

Things have changed. This individual continued, “Now, I thank God everyday that I am here. I’ve learned that my thinking was so wrong. I know now that having God in my life and being sober makes everything clear.

“What I hope for 2015 is to complete this program. It has taught me a lot. I am worth something. God is the Way and He will show you the way to have a beautiful and sober life. I hope for a good job and an apartment. No resolution. Maybe next year.”

That same staff member I referred to above told me something last year which is still true 12 months later, “As their instructor, my heart skips a beat when I read such ‘prayers,’ because I see that our programmers are ‘getting it.’ They are grabbing a hold of relationship with the God of the Bible. That relationship is expanding into every area of their lives, like a splash in a pool.”

How do your resolutions stack up with these?