Lean into Grace

Originally Appeared in : Vol. 100 No. 01

Once upon a time, when my older boys were very little, I started a New Year’s Resolution journal for our family. On New Year’s Day, each member of our family would write (or dictate to mama) what we hoped to accomplish that year. On the next year’s January 1, I would make a note of how things went for each person, and then we would once again list our goals for the coming year.

We did this for several years, up until the birth of our sixth baby. I was pregnant with Isabel that January, and my goal for the year was “have a baby.” That was the last entry in the Resolution Journal because it ushered me into a new season called “Survival Mode,” and it lasted a little longer than I had anticipated. The journal and our noble resolution goals were shelved.

A few days ago, thanks to a recent major house purge, I discovered the journal on some newly cleared out shelves. We had a great time going through the old pages, seeing the resolutions of little boys, items that included things like “learn to build rocket ships,” and “do more lightsabering.” I picked several of the resolutions over the years for the boys, goals like using the big boy potty and merely getting through being two.

Paul and I had our own goals listed in the book, and it was fun to see what did work out over the year. One year I recorded that my goal was to get a bigger house (with no immediate plans in the works) and by the next year, we had moved.

Something about the book helped formulate and articulate our hopes and dreams, what mattered to us, and what we knew was worth our effort. Paul and I each had entries focused on praying more and teaching our children to pray. We wanted to exercise more and lose those pounds inevitably added during the previous holiday season.

A few weeks ago, Paul told me about an article he came across shared by a friend of ours who is an Episcopalian minister. The article was all about resolutions and goals and how this time of year is all about getting better and doing better and identifying all of our problems and working to solve them.

It’s so true. Something about January 1 really does inspire us to try and get ourselves together. After a few weeks of real indulgence (with food and drink and money) we are really to get back on track in a variety of areas.

We plan to manage our money better and not eat fast food. We will go to bed earlier so we can get up earlier so we can exercise and make good choices. We will spend more time in prayer and less time being selfish, and probably, if we’re sincere, completely burn out on these resolves just in time for Valentine’s Day.

What I loved about this article, however, was the author’s idea of a solution. Instead of coming up with a million things we can fix, what if we lean into grace? What if we asked God to get in the middle of all the ways we want to do better and be better and act better, and instead of trying to fix every little thing, we welcome God into it all.

So this year, after unearthing our Resolution Journal and starting it up again, I decided that my goal for the year would be to lean into grace. I have so many areas that I want to improve, but I want to let God have his way.

This year when I think about managing our money, I’m asking God to guide us. When I want to cook better meals for my family, I’m asking God for grace to do it. When I think about areas deep within me that feel like pinched nerves and sore spots, I’m asking God to wash over them with his love and heal me in ways I can’t even dream up on my own.

God’s grace is the best resolution we could seek. May he be with each of us as we begin this fresh new year.

Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother
of six. She and her husband Paul are
members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic
Church in Augusta, GA . Her latest book,
Make My Life Simple, is available on

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