Spirituality for Today – January 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 6

Spirituality For The New Year

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of a snow covered meadow with the sun peeking out behind a snow covered pine treeAt the beginning of every new year there comes forth a whole new series of New Year's resolutions. And they are along this line, how to eat properly, how to exercise correctly, how to avoid stress, how to take care of yourself physically. It is rare that you ever hear anyone speak and mention that what each of us should cultivate each new year is that kind of spirituality that brings us peace of mind and closer to God.

Without that kind of spirituality, there will never be the happiness that you are looking for in this life. You can diet, you can exercise, you can fast, but unless your spirituality gets deeper every year, your degree of happiness gets less every year.

There are just a few norms about spirituality that I would like to suggest that each one tries to cultivate during this year 2008 so that genuine happiness will be greater at the end of this year than you had even last year.

The first quality that must be cultivated on a daily basis is our relationship with God. God gives us, each one of us, 1440 minutes per day for 365 days of this year 2008. We cannot go on year after year giving almost no time to thinking about God or establishing a deeper relationship with God and expect to have happiness at the end of the year 2008. Billy Graham has a wonderful line about taking one day at a time. He said, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future". Today is a day that God has made and on this day I have to do what God wants me to do that will be pleasing to him.

Thomas Carlisle has a wonderful line where he said, "I shall pass this way but once, any good that I can do let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again".

Emily Dickinson had the same philosophy when she said, "if I can prevent one sparrow from falling, or one heart from breaking, I will not have lived in vain".

Each one of us is expected in the plan of God to love and serve Him on this earth so that we can be happy with Him in the next. Our neighbor is the person that God wants us to reach out to. In giving of ourselves to our neighbor, we are fulfilling the command of God to "love your neighbor and love yourself".

The second quality of our spirituality that must be cultivated is our relationship with others. One word that has to be brought into our vocabulary and acted upon is the word change. We are not the same people we were yesterday, we are not the same people we were on the day of our marriage. We have changed. Our change, if our spirituality is to be deepened, must find us doing those acts of compassion and charity that Christ spoke about when He said, "when I was hungry you gave me to eat; thirsty you gave me to drink and naked and you clothed me". It is wonderful when you think of all of the compassion that was shown during this past Christmas holiday to those in want and need. But the sadness is that the same amount of people are still in greater want and need and your compassion that finds you reaching out to them is part of the spirituality that God wants you to develop.

The last quality that must be used to enrich our spirituality is really loving one self. For years we have heard of people who have no self-esteem, no sense of self-worth, no great sense of self-value. There is no doubt about it that those people who have this problem of low self-esteem or low-self worth have paid a price. But there is one word that has to be incorporated in your life and it is the word change. You cannot look back, you cannot live on regret, you cannot nurture self pity because of something unfortunate that happened to you in your past. All we have is today. Those precious 1440 minutes. Are you going to waste them by living in the past and recounting all the injuries that might have been done to you or are you going to take those 1440 minutes and do what God wants you to do to be of service and help to others.

All of us today have the mentality that so many of our problems can be resolved by Prozac and Zoloft and so many other anit depressant drugs. There is no question we need these drugs from time to time, but here is also no question that each one of us can rise above our past, drop our habit of self incrimination, stop looking back at the past and do the best with the day God has given us. Your spirituality does not grow because you look back to the past, your spirituality deepens because you make a resolution to do the best for God and for others for every day of this 2008.

All during this month of January we are going to hear about resolutions. The resolution to do more exercise, the resolution to do more dieting and all of those have a definite value. But if you want to recall the statements of Abraham Lincoln he said, "you are as happy as you make up your mind to be". If you develop a deeper relationship with God, a deeper relationship with others, a deeper relationship with our self, you will not only achieve the happiness that Abraham Lincoln talked about, but you will develop a type of peace of mind that will last you all throughout the year 2008.