Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
I must admit that I was somewhat surprised to learn that “deresolve,” either with or without a hyphen, does not seem to actually be a valid word in the English language. When the word popped into my head this morning as I contemplated writing this column, I assumed that surely it would exist, and the definition would be something akin to “un-resolving previous resolutions, deciding to forsake certain pre-established decisions.”
But, knowing that I had never seen or heard the word used before in my lifetime of extensive reading, I decided to search and see if it was, indeed, a word.
And, as it turns out, the answer appears to be no, at least as far as Google is concerned, unless I have missed something, which is always possible. So, if it indeed has not heretofore been a word, I now claim it; this shall be my linguistic Admiral Peary moment, as I plant my flag on “deresolve” as he did on the North Pole. If I am wrong, and someone else has planted their flag on that word previous to my arrival, I have no doubt that my ever astute readers will make me aware of it, and I look forward to hearing from them as always.
Anyway, there is a fairly obvious reason why the word deresolve is bouncing around my differently-wired brain this morning. The year 2021 is coming to an end (though, like Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day,” It seems to have been largely a redux of 2020), and 2022 is making its entrance. And, as is customary at the beginning of each new year, people everywhere will be making New Year’s resolutions. The most common of such resolutions, according to the folks at Statista.com, are improving fitness, losing weight, saving more money, improving diet, pursuing a career ambition, and taking up a new hobby. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/378105/new-years-resolution/)
But, in what is probably a surprise to no one, the average length of time people actually kept those resolutions is just 36 days, little over a month. (https://people.com/health/average-american-tried-and-failed-at-2020-new-years-resolutions-study/)
And so, if New Year’s resolutions are so prone to be abandoned in such a short period of time, what, pray tell, is the solution?
Drum roll, please… the deresolution.
Please hold your skepticism until you hear me all the way out.
Jeremiah the prophet was going through a horrible time. And in the midst of that, he made a very unwise resolution. Jeremiah 20:7-9 says, “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name…”
Jeremiah got so low under persecution that he decided that God had deceived him, and he then resolved not to be a prophet anymore, and never again speak in God’s name. Mind you; God had certainly not deceived him; Jeremiah was simply speaking out of a heart filled with pain. Nonetheless, he made a very firm resolution. But verse twenty ends with these words, “…But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
Jeremiah resolved not to speak in God’s name and then quickly deresolved that resolution. He went on to preach for more than fifty years.
Sometimes deresolving the bad resolutions of the past is even better than making brand new resolutions. Yes, I know that un-deciding something is actually making a decision, and therefore a deresolution is actually a resolution, but let’s not dive down a logical rabbit hole and miss the simple point. The point is, lots of people make bad decisions, and the start of a new year is a great time to say, “that decision was dumb, and I am chucking it out like the stuff growing in that Tupperware container in the back of the refrigerator.”
You may be in a sinful relationship that is pulling you from God and alienating you from family. You have been resolved to pursue that; now would be a great time to deresolve that resolution.
You may have gotten out of church for any number of reasons: covid, hurt feelings, laziness, pick a reason. You have been resolved to pursue that course; now would be a great time to deresolve that resolution.
You may have gotten into an argument with some family member and are resolved to sever that relationship forever. Now would be a great time to deresolve that resolution.
The possibilities are endless. People make really firm decisions all the time, and since none of us are perfect or all-knowing, not all of them are good decisions. And yet people often cling to their bad decisions out of some foolish notion that once a thing is resolved, you can never go back.
If the Prodigal Son had held that foolish view, he would have died in the hog pen.
Let’s hear it for New Year’s deresolutions!
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner