I was channel surfing on my radio the other day and the topic of (New Year's) resolutions caught my attention on a Christian music station. The commentators were discussing their findings, corroborated by some "study," where most of our best intentions and "resolutions" are often derailed (surprisingly) by those around us.
They went on to say many of those cases revolved around weight loss. What they discovered were those who were successful in losing weight found their biggest struggle came not from within, but from those closest to them.
I recall seeing an episode from one of The Biggest Loser spin-off shows. A four-hundred pound man was in a relationship with a woman weighing upwards of 280 pounds. He enlisted himself into this challenge, but thought it would be something the both of them could work on together. As time went on, the man's girlfriend wanted less and less to do with his "resolution" and continued to eat unhealthily, not exercising nor encouraging or facilitating his determination to lead a better life.
In order to maintain his focus of reaching his goal of losing half of his weight, he made a choice to break off the relationship, move out of the house they shared and live in his car so he could put forth the necessary effort in a better environment to achieve his desired objective.
At the conclusion of the show, the man had lost two hundred pounds, was living a healthier lifestyle and had a new girlfriend. The trainer applauded his efforts for removing those obstacles which hindered him from becoming who he wanted to be.
I don't understand why it's (sometimes unknowingly) easier to dampen someone's spirit than to inherently find opportunities to encourage and keep one another accountable in their pursuits. I have scoured the pages of Genesis to determine where it speaks of man (guys specifically) being cursed with the propensity to razz, mock or dishearten others in their aspirations and good deeds.
Even Moses had to deal with this in Numbers 32:7, "Why do you discourage the Israelites from going over into the land the LORD has given them?"
Granted, not everyone is guilty of acting in this way, but we can all do a better job of reaching out to encourage others in their dreams and God-given passion. Even within the church, we are often the first to judge and recognize (or label) "sin" rather than caring for our brother first. Instead of seeking for opportunities to inspire to love and good works, many look for chances to stifle and depress.
Does this come from years of our own disappointments?
Is it the result of being unhappy with our own life or envious of someone (or everyone) else's?
Are we afraid their success will make us look like an underachiever or reveal something about ourselves which we must face?
Do we find some satisfaction in saying, "I told you so?!"
If there's one thing I have learned (and had to re-learn) over the past several years, is I can't change what people think, feel or say about me. No matter what I do, express, or give to them, they will always have their view - good, bad or neutral.
It becomes my choice to allow their words to hurt me, stymie my pursuits, or change what I do, or I can trust in the One who gave me life and breath and hopes and dreams.
Just the other day, I was told (by a caring individual in regards to my life goals) "You have to be realistic."
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to email@example.com.