Birthdays, anniversaries and New Year’s celebrations are ways to mark the passage of time, valuing achievements as well as what has occurred over the past year. Resolutions are a way to remember and set goals to use the time wisely in the coming year. Unfortunately, we usually forget these goals all too soon, as resolutions quickly “fall by the wayside.” But time is a valuable gift, and it is often wasted.
He made everything appropriate in its time. He also placed eternity within them—yet, no person can fully comprehend what God is doing from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ISV)
In mental disorders, time is a crucial requirement in healing of both relational conflicts as well as inner psychic disorders. In no other disorder is the perception of time as severely disrupted as it is with the destructive effects of emotional trauma. Before medical training, I first learned about the connection between the experience of time and emotional trauma from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five. In this story, the main figure Billy Pilgrim suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his experience of the bombings in Dresden during World War II. Traumatic experiences of the war suspended his sense of time, causing him to re-experience the bombings throughout the book with “flashbacks” of memories.
In real cases of traumatic stress disorders, “flashbacks” do occur. During these flashbacks, one feels the same painful experiences suffered during the trauma, while being emotionally “transported” back to that time. The psyche attempts to repair and recover one’s broken identity to be whole again. It can take time and professional help to heal the broken inner parts of one’s identity that traumatic life experience has fractured. Healing requires time to regain mastery and safety as psychological wholeness is restored.
Traumatic experiences are not the only way we are broken in our psyches or in our relationships. Brokenness is part of our nature as men and women in a fallen world. Sequential time was lovingly created by God for both our spiritual and psychological redemption. This redemption includes sanctification as the process by which the Spirit heals and draws us to God.
The Spirit works to heal fractured parts of ourselves as well as fractured relationships, bringing us towards reconciliation and growth. The Spirit uses time to lead us to healing and wholeness. This includes psychological as well as relational wholeness. It includes finding and choosing Christ’s salvation.
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. When you call out to me and come and pray to me, I’ll hear you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I’ll be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I’ll restore your security and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I’ve driven you,’ declares the Lord. ‘I’ll bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.’
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (ISV)
God created time for our redemption. Time gives us the space to heal, grow and develop a closer relationship with Him. A New Year’s resolution can help us remember to use the year for continual redemption and a closer walk with God.