Some of us—I know because I am among them—have a tendency to think if we say something then it will be true. For instance, I might say “I want to be among those who do not drink” or “I want to be among those who meditate 30 minutes a day” “or I want to be among those who are generous and welcoming towards others.” These are lofty and they may be generically true in that it is hard to imagine much of an argument against these (except perhaps alcohol but that’s another story). Still, saying them does not make them true about us. Our actions, what we do, how we behave, speaks another story and tell the truth about our values.
I wonder if part of our confusion is that when God created the world he literally spoke it into being. God said X and there was X is the refrain. Perhaps we, being created in the image of God, are confused and think if we say X then X will arrive. There is a role for speaking, many (again myself included) have benefited from having an event on the calendar that others know about because that helps one train on the days we don’t want to get up early and run. Ask any motivational-guru-type and they will mention that there is a power to saying you are going to do something.
Interestingly, I read a while ago about the opposite, someone was making the argument that when we speak such goals ahead of time (Facebooking “I’m gonna run a marathon” or whatever) we cheat and get a little high when we get recognition, and maybe even praise and support without having actually done anything beyond write a Facebook post. This person argued to get the real joy and benefit we would need to announce “surprise I ran NYC this week and it was a blast” or whatever. So maybe there is room for some silence in our endeavours and goals as well. I suppose one must reflect and sort out if one is seeking a priori praise or is creating a tangible sense of accountability.
At any rate, our actions tell the real story don’t they. Are we generous, sober, kind, and the like? Look at our actions. Are we planning of the future and saving for retirement or do we just read about it? Are we following Jesus or just saying we do or just reading about those you have or are?
I could go one but I imagine you get the idea, saying something doesn’t make it true, doing something does. It sounds obvious but something about January makes me want to review this truth.
The good news (not the gospel but words we can take to the bank) is that we can change our actions. Today we can eat mini carrots instead of a chocolate bar, we can park farther from the door, we can book one less meeting this week, we can read one more book to our kids, we can watch one less episode a day on Netflix and create space to draw, pray, meditate, or cook a better meal. Our actions make up the story and we can choose today what our actions will. Our past action limit us, of course that is true, like few of us (myself included) can get up and run a marathon today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put on shoes and go for a walk. Few of us (myself included) can wake up and fast and pray all day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t commit a portion of our day to God.
Who do we want to be, and why? What immediate actions can we take, like today, to move in the direction of being that person?
Let’s get on it, no one can do it for us.