Q: What are your feelings about New Year's resolutions? Do you make them, and if so, what are some of them?
Jim: It's hard to believe we've already arrived at this time of year when we typically pause, reflect, regret, repent and resolve to make some changes. By the time the Times Square Ball falls in New York City Wednesday night, millions of Americans will have compiled their lists. And I can't say for certain, but I imagine that losing weight, getting fit and (with Christmas behind us) getting out of debt are at the top of many lists.
The truth is, we're all works in progress, and for many people New Year's resolutions can be a helpful exercise in our efforts to realize growth and positive change. Although I usually don't have a specific list every year, I do reflect on the past and set goals for the future. That's important. This season of taking personal inventory is like a much needed wheel alignment.
As I've aged, though -- and hopefully matured -- I'm learning that self-actualization and my own personal achievements bring less satisfaction and have far less impact than the development of my character and the giving of myself to others. The brilliant 18th-century theologian and evangelist Jonathan Edwards understood this, too -- and at a much younger age. First among his well-known 70 Resolutions (many written at the age of 19) is:
"Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God ... to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general."
As we turn the page on 2014 and look with anticipation toward 2015, I'd encourage all of us to resolve to do the same.
Happy New Year!
Q: Our daughter and former son-in-law were married for 10 years until he left her and their two kids three years ago. Although they've divorced, he continues a relationship with her and the children. Our daughter is insistent that he join us for New Year's, otherwise none of them will come. Though I haven't told her, we'd really rather he not. Should we just cave in and let him come?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: I feel for you and the difficulty of your predicament. You didn't spell out what's beneath your reluctance to have your former son-in-law come along, but you're likely wrestling with several emotions. Maybe you're still hurt and angry over the abandonment of your daughter and grandkids and the way he's treated them. Maybe you've never gotten along, or perhaps you have reservations about whether this kind of arrangement is unhealthy and potentially hurtful and confusing to the kids.
Your feelings and concerns are understandable, and the situation is less than ideal. Still, in this case, I would encourage you to defer to your daughter's assessment of things. She's been charged with the responsibility for the well-being of her kids -- that's her call -- while you have ownership of your attitude toward her former husband.
Rather than view his joining you as "caving in," consider this an opportunity to extend unconditional love to your former son-in-law, to deepen your relationship with and influence on your grandchildren, and to demonstrate respect and show your daughter how much she matters to you.
Admittedly, this won't be easy, so it's important that you and your spouse get on the same page beforehand so that you can discuss your needs and ways you can support one another when the clan's together. Please call our Focus counselors at 855-771-HELP (4357) if we can be of help.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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