Now, there’s a cheery passage for reflection on the Eve of New Year’s Eve!
This story has seemed barbaric to me since I first read the passage in my teens.
The Pharisees, in their never-ending parade of attempts to challenge Jesus with “What-ifs?” and “What-abouts?” involving their interpretation of law, bring some poor woman before Jesus as Exhibit A. “What about this one?” they seem to ask. “Surely you won’t tell us she doesn’t deserve stoning.”
No surprise, of course, that Jesus tells them exactly that. Yet, in a metaphoric way, isn’t this what we sometimes do to ourselves around this time each year?
As we look back on the past year, as we set resolutions for the next, don’t we sometimes stone ourselves with self-criticism and self-judgment?
And in response, don’t we sometimes set resolutions based on unrealistic expectations? And within a few weeks (or even days) when we cannot meet them, we begin the cycle of self-doubt and self-criticism again.
What resolutions can we make and realistically keep that will help us feel better about ourselves?
Can we be nicer to ourselves?
The best New Year’s resolution I ever made–and perhaps the only one I ever kept–was the year I resolved to spend more time in Balboa Park.
Can we show ourselves grace and forgiveness when we fall short of our own expectations?
As for the gym, after more than two decades, I have conceded that I am not going to keep a gym habit. This year, I’m turning in my gym membership, ending my charitable contribution to the proprietors and resolving not to beat myself up about it. I’ll find other ways to exercise and stay healthy, but I’m freeing myself of this perpetual guilt.
Can we see ourselves through Divine eyes?
As for my other shortcomings, the ones too private for a public blog, I choose to see myself as beautifully human in my imperfections, always working to be better and celebrating my life as it is now and my life as it will be. I choose to see myself through the Divine eyes of unconditional love.
This year, if we resolve nothing else, can we resolve to stop stoning ourselves?
Rev. Karen Clark Ristine is a minister at Mission Hills United Methodist Church. After more than 20 years as a journalist, she entered seminary in 2006 and has been working in ministry ever since. After a lifelong tradition of sending out scores of Christmas cards each year, she was surprised to discover the irony that, as a minister, she no longer seemed to have time to continue that tradition.