Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing. John 15:4 The Living Bible

Have I made any New Year’s resolutions? Nope. I gave that up about the same time I realized the futility of what one teacher described as “taking a few cranks on the willpower screw.” Like:

When my children were young, the mornings when I would get up vowing that day I would be what a friend called a “neatsie mom”—calm, kind, loving, patient. Usually those were the moments when my kids were their worst and I would be screaming by 10 a.m.

Or what about all those weight-loss diets I tried? Again, I would launch the program with teeth-gritted determination, swearing I would not waver, that this time, I would achieve my goal.

You know what happened! I would carry on for a couple of weeks, perhaps even a month, but I’d get bored with the food and “cheat,” or I’d hit a plateau and think the plan wasn’t working. Sooner or later, I’d throw the books in the trash…and end up feeling defeated. Again.

No matter how worthy my goals, I just can’t achieve them by trying harder. Most times, in fact, it seems the harder I try, the worse I fail.

I’ve come to believe that’s how God designed it.

Since the Old Snake hissed in Eve’s ear that we can be “as God,” (Genesis 3:5) we’ve been trying, like two-year-olds, “to do it ourselves.” God dooms such efforts to failure because He wants us to realize the truth of what Jesus says here:

“Without me, you can’t do a thing”…nothing good, at least.

Are there things about me that need improvement? Of course! But I do much better when I ask Him to show me what needs changing and seek His help in doing it. Little by little. Day by day. And quit beating myself up when I have set-backs. As I will.

Oh, and by the way: another thing I’ve learned in my long life is: I cannot change another person, either, no matter how I try! Not spouse, child or friend. I saved myself all kinds of agony when I finally quit trying and learned to turn them over to God to change or not, as He chose.

Here, as in other situations, it’s a question of trust. The more let go and I trust God, the happier and better person I am.

Perhaps I just made a resolution, after all!

FATHER GOD: Help me to trust You with everything—including what needs to change. Amen.

First published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” January 21, 2018.