By this point in the year, those bold new resolutions many of us confidently made only a few weeks ago may well have faltered. Those daily 1k runs you said you would wake up at the crack of dawn for now feel like a distant memory, and that new hobby you convinced yourself you were finally going to take up has fallen by the wayside. I write all this with the full knowledge that I am guilty myself. I have made promises about being the newer, shinier version of myself each New Year, only for cold reality to soon put paid to my ambitions.
However, how many of these promises we make are ever really connected to reality in the first place? At the beginning of the year, we put these huge expectations on ourselves thinking that if we make these huge changes our lives will dramatically improve and our problems will be solved. Yet half the time we don’t even really want to do the things that we sign ourselves up for – all too often it’s an illusion that we would ever do them and an illusion that they would ever ‘fix’ us! Now don’t get me wrong – going jogging every day or reading more books is always going to improve your life. But when it comes to really transforming our lives there is really only one person who can do that – and He’s not just interested in January!
So, if we’re not making New Year resolutions, then what should we be doing? Romans 12:2 says, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Paul tells us to not conform to this world but to renew our mind so that we know God’s will. But what does ‘not conforming’ look like in practice? At the time Paul was writing, the simple act of going to church could be a death sentence for followers of Christ, but things were not always so extreme. We may choose not to watch certain TV shows and movies because they don’t honour God, and similarly the first Christians had to make decisions when choosing whether or not to watch humans kill and be killed for sport in the arena.
Right from the beginning, God created us with our jumbled mix of emotions and free will, which frequently see us choose the wrong way and not the right way. But He also gives us the hope that we can learn from our mistakes and grow – ‘be conformed’ – into more Jesus-like humans as we go. The mistake we often make is to think that with one simple change, our lives will suddenly be fixed – we want a shortcut!
But as Jesus eloquently explains, being ‘fixed’ is not something that happens overnight. Rather it is something that we grow into as we learn to walk with Him. ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful’ John 15:1-2.
In summary, for this year and every other year you have, devote yourself to learning to follow God’s leading in your life and let Him guide you in the renewing of your mind, tending to you and pruning you when you need it.
With the pressure now off to fix everything overnight, I’m going for a run!
Jon Aslet is a professional Chef and a part of the Hope 1513 team.
New Year Salad (serves 4)
Some of you may have taken up diets for this New Year, so here is a fun little recipe – very healthy but with flavour in abundance. (You can always sprinkle some feta on top if you’re not feeling quite as healthy!)
1 large butternut squash
3 small spring onions
1 large bag of rocket
1 head of radicchio
1tsp black and white sesame seeds
4 tbsp tahini
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 180oC/350oF/gas mark 4.
- Peel and remove the seeds of the butternut squash, and then roughly chop it into short sticks, about 2cm wide. Place the sticks onto a roasting tray and liberally drizzle over olive oil (about 4 tbsp) and a good amount of salt and pepper, as well as the juice of 1 lime. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft to the touch.
- Trim and finely slice the spring onion and chilli, leaving the chilli seeds in if you want more heat. Place aside for later.
- Take the radicchio, remove the outer leaves, cut in half and remove the core, before cutting each of the halves in half. Then finely chop each piece. Place in a large bowl with the rocket.
- In a small bowl, add the tahini, 1tbsp of olive oil, a large pinch of salt and the juice of 1 lime. Whisk together until fully combined with a smooth glossy texture; add more oil if you feel it is too thick.
- Remove the squash from the oven and use a spatula to remove the sticks from the tray and place on a plate. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Add the squash and ¾ of the dressing to the rocket and radicchio bowl, then toss the salad together until everything is coated with the dressing and transfer to a serving dish (or not if you want to save on washing up!). Drizzle over the remainder of the dressing and sprinkle over the chilli, spring onion and sesame seeds. Enjoy!