When it comes to practical jokes, Yours Truly is always on the ready. Throughout my earthly passage, I have perpetuated my share of practical jokes. I will not enumerate them here, the simple reason being, I might want to bring one out of retirement.
I must say that most practical jokes are neither practical nor funny. However, I operate on the biblical premise, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). With the high cost of medicine these days, I will take a merry heart every time. Just call me Dr. Merry Heart, and I will dispense some good medicine to everybody who needs it.
Now, the practical joke I am thinking of has to do with New Year's Resolutions. I always look forward to the last week in January for this very reason. For the first several weeks of January, I am nervous and sweating over those lousy New Year's Resolutions I am forced to make. Pardon my French.
Somewhere there is someone laughing at all of those stupid enough to make New Year's Resolutions. It is probably the quintessential practical joke played on all humanity. Is there a culture anywhere in our world today that does not fall for this practical joke? If there is, I want to move there.
The first week in January is probably the worst week when it comes to these New Year's Resolutions. They are fresh in our mind not to mention fresh on our lips. A New Year's Resolution would not be so bad if nobody knew that we made one. The problem comes when somebody knows what our resolution is and constantly reminds us, “How's your New Year's Resolutions coming along?”
For most of us, it is a formula for lying. Of course, I blame my friends who are tempting me into this pattern of lying. If they would forget my resolutions as easily as I do, there would be peace on earth good will to men.
Nevertheless, during the first week, I entertain high intentions about my resolutions. And like the thought-challenged beggar that I am, I boast to everybody about the high quality resolutions I have put in force for the coming year. All this in an effort to improve my standing among my peers. Most of my peers are standing in high water themselves. My objective is to make them think that I am a progressive, forward thinking, highbrow person of the future. I cannot control what they think, but I can help them along the thinking process concerning myself.
The second week of January is a high water mark for these New Year's Resolutions. It is during this week that I begin to have suspicions about the legitimacy of my resolutions. The first week they look wonderful, but the second week the rose begins fading and I begin to see what I have strapped myself with for the coming year. Then, just when my confidence is beginning to shake, a friend of mine will ask, “How's your New Year's Resolutions coming along?”
On Facebook, they have a process called “defriending.” I must find out how that works. I have a list of friends I would like to “defriend,” at least until my New Year's Resolutions have faded into the distant past of forgetfulness. The next person that asks me about my New Year's Resolutions will be added to that infamous list.
Then the third week of January comes around. It is at this time I begin to see that my New Year's Resolutions were made by a fool. There is no fool quite like the one in your bathroom mirror. By now, I find there is absolutely no way those resolutions will be kept by me. If only I could sell my resolutions on eBay, I might make out pretty good, because on paper they look terrific.
At this stage of the month, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage says to me, “How's your New Year's Resolutions coming along?” She always says it with a silly little smirk on her face. She knows that the boast of January 1 loses its luster by January 21. After all, she has 46 years, this coming summer, of experience with my New Year's Resolutions.
It is the fourth week of January I am most interested in. To go through the first three weeks of January is rather painful but by the time the last week comes around everything is forgotten.
Not only have I forgotten my resolutions, but everybody around me has forgotten them as well. At least they have given up asking me about those resolutions. I take what I get and am thankful. Some may have heard about my defriending policy.
The thing most troubling is, I never learn my lesson. Next year it will be the very same thing, and consequently, the same outcome.
There is something to forgetting the past. I find it interesting that the things we need to forget are the very things we remember, and the things we should remember are the ones we usually forget.
The apostle Paul understood this very thing. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” (Philippians 3:13).
The best resolution has to do with my relationship with God. And that is no practical joke.