The time for resolutions, new year’s style, has come round again. I can’t remember when I stopped doing that. It was way back, even before I became a Christian. What’s the point? If there’s something you want to do, do it. If there’s something you don’t want to do, stop doing it. Why is a Resolution necessary?
Is it because “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”? If that’s the case, then stop trying to stop—or start. You’ve already proven you can’t do it (whatever “it” is). If you could have, you would have.
There’s no way to consider this topic rationally without considering the nature of addiction, the One Ring, original sin, and several other guises of the Edenic serpent, including the innocuous-sounding term, willpower. All such considerations are those on which whole libraries of books from great philosophy to pop self-help have been written. But eventually it all tumbles down to one bare truth: You can’t do it.
So—what to do? It’s a brick wall, isn’t it? Years of struggle go by, years of self-torture, of broken promises and broken hearts. You can’t bear to see yourself in the mirror. What are we talking about here? Drug addiction? Alcoholism? Not really. These are mere symptoms of a deeper disease. These are the surface manifestations—the visible rash, if you will—that some people bear, like leprosy, and from which other people turn their faces in disgust or disdain. But the deeper disease is universal, and no one is immune.
I know this sounds like blasphemy and maybe it is, but our will is neither strong nor weak. It is simply “free.” In other words, it’s our “freedom,” a term that causes people to bow their heads in reverence, a treasure to cling to, like the Ring, something to cherish above all things. Freedom from and freedom to get analyzed all the time, but that’s just us trying to understand what we mean by freedom.
As a student, I asked Prof. Grove: What is freedom? He answered, It’s what you give up. When that’s fully absorbed and understood, everything changes. Non-believers won’t understand it, but believers may “meditate on it day and night” and come to understand: Blessed is the alcoholic, the addict, the one who knows–in the only way humans know anything (by personal experience)–that surrender is the only real freedom there is.
There are many for whom these thoughts and words are meaningless. They’ve heard too many. They can look at the Cross, where no words are needed.
The best thing to do with your freedom, your will, is to lay it down. But if you prefer to pursue the glory of victory on your own, then you can be your own god. And find that you are a prisoner of yourself.
Happy New Year.