Forget the Beach Bod. Try These Soul Resolutions Instead.

Confront your sorrow.

I love how “courage” derives from the Latin word for “heart.” In the coming year, I want to courageously acknowledge specific ways in which my heart has been broken — by people, by racism, by institutions and even by God — so that I can pursue the healing I need. If we want to be agents of healing to our hurting world, we must courageously and continuously pursue the healing of our own hearts.

— Rev. Michelle T. Sanchez, author of “Color-Courageous Discipleship” and “God’s Beloved Community”

Forget balance and embrace grace.

Every year I strive to achieve the ever-elusive work-life balance, only to reach a place of imbalance. Then disappointment, frustration, uncertainty, anxiety, irritability — or any combination of these — set in. This year, instead of feeling that I’m neglecting family during times of work, neglecting work during time with family or friends or feeling guilty about a lack of productivity during times of relaxation or reflection, I’ll embrace each moment and more deliberately invite grace into my life.

Instead of wallowing in perceived failures, we can pause (even for a couple of minutes) to engage in focused breathing, meditation, prayer or expressions of gratitude. Doing so will benefit our brain health and emotional wellness. Balance is a false construct of a task-based world. Grace allows every one of us to invite peace and harmony into our soul.

— Nii Addy, neuroscientist, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University and host of the “Addy Hour” podcast

Gather, feast and rest with others.

I’ve practiced Sabbath keeping weekly with my family for nearly 15 years. Having a regular rhythm to stop, rest, delight and contemplate has been soul-forming. Over the past two years, however, I’ve discovered a deepening need to gather with others more intentionally on this day for unhurried conversation, good drink and play. The word “gather” will be a significant word for me. After a pandemic season of being scattered, my wife and I will create spaces for others to belong. Feasting is not something that should be highlighted in our lives a handful of times a year — most notably during the holidays. Feasting needs to be a regular spiritual practice of savoring the gifts of God in the form of people and food, and creative spaces for connection.

Rich Villodas, pastor and author of “Good and Beautiful and Kind”

Practice nonviolence, even internally.

My resolution is to practice nonviolence in my head and heart. Every morning, after praying, I read the paper and find myself hating on Vladimir Putin and the Russians for the enormous and unprovoked suffering they have unleashed on Ukraine. I can’t do much to stop that war, but I can stop the war in my head and stop the hate in my heart. Nonviolence begins with converting myself.

Bill Cavanaugh, theologian at DePaul University

Think small.

As somebody who reflects on ethical failure for a living, I have realized how often I get overwhelmed with big problems in our world or my own life, and then assume I need to find an equally big solution right away. This year, I am going to try to take to heart the advice Pope Francis gave to focus first on the small moments of peaceful encounter with the good and with God in our everyday lives. Often it is these small moments of grace which “transmit the joy of living and suggest further good initiatives.”

Elisabeth Rain Kincaid, Legendre-Soulé chair of business ethics and director of the Center for Ethics and Economic Justice at Loyola University New Orleans

Seek the wisdom of elders.

Everyone I know has an area of their life they are unsure what to do with. Our physical health, financial well-being, relational confusion. We do our best, but honestly, we are a mess. We may turn to Google, TikTok or Amazon for a solution, but we still feel stuck and confused. Before all of these mediated places of advice, we used to go to village elders and ask for wisdom. They were the people who knew our lives and our family histories. They could see our individual strengths and weaknesses. From this vantage point they could offer nuanced and practical advice — ancient wisdom that was able to be applied specifically to our circumstances. We need this again. We need eye-to-eye, knee-to-knee, heart-to-heart advice — counsel that comes from wisdom but is offered from flesh-and-blood people who will see it through with us. Pastors, parents and grandparents can watch our progress and celebrate, as well as challenge us. This requires getting up close to people and being vulnerable. But isn’t that what we all really need?

Jay Pathak, national director for Vineyard U.S.A., a network of churches


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