As we begin our spring semester and a new year, one of our biggest challenges is to continue to meet the goals we set for ourselves, perhaps even our "new year's resolutions." We get asked what our resolutions are, and, if you're like me, you might make one up on the spot. Resolutions come in all shapes and sizes - to work out at the gym more often, to eat healthier, to actually read the textbooks you bought for this semester, to study or work harder or more diligently, to mend fences with people we love or even with those people we may find difficult to love. We have dreams for ourselves, and we use resolutions to set goals that make our dreams achievable, one step at a time.
That we choose to improve ourselves and improve our lives is key to a resolution. We make a choice to change, and we resolve to keep that change. Sometimes we commit to those resolutions full force; sometimes, for whatever reason, we fall short of our hopes and don't keep the resolution. Once, during a conversation about our favorite foods, a friend and I jokingly chose to stop eating French fries for an entire year. We both failed: we each fell off the wagon two times. Only failing twice in the whole 365 days of French-fry-free-living, though, in a country where fast-food/French-fry serving restaurants are everywhere, I consider an accomplishment.
Sure, my resolution was not as serious as some of the ones we hope to make, but the point is, whatever change you do make, you are the sole person responsible for that resolution. To start again after failure, to be determined to keep our resolutions and to choose again, day after day, that is what helps us reach out, to keep our resolutions, and to have dreams big enough for ourselves and our world that might seem nearly impossible.
Now, as we start the first week of a new semester, it might be more difficult to hold to our now two-week-old resolutions. They might seem just a little too impossible to keep, with the daily routine of school and work that starts again. It might seem there is simply no time to go to the gym or to eat healthy, home-cooked meals or to do any other the other good things we resolved to do.
Our challenge is to make a choice, to live in hope every day, to choose to live a life we see as healthy, to choose to make the life we dream. St. Ignatius faced the same hopes and the same obstacles as we do, but he chose to live every day for the greater glory of God and in the service of humanity, to enhance the lives of people around him, making them happier and freer.
Ignatius chose to dream of a world that was — or certainly could be — better, and founded a community that continues to resolve to help those in the world who need it most. If we follow his lead, we can choose to make our everyday what we dream it to be. We can choose not to eat French fries or to start our own business or to improve our world, one person at a time.
Regardless of the resolutions we make, let those resolutions not only make a difference in our lives, but also in the lives of those around us. As our Mission says, at Saint Louis University, we resolve to pursue truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.
With his choices and resolutions, St. Ignatius gave us the opportunity to live and work at SLU, a place where dreams come from classrooms and study rooms, in residence halls and libraries, in labs and athletic venues, in offices and workplaces. He encouraged us all not to waste our chance to dream of something bigger for ourselves or for our community. His story challenges us, as we begin this semester, to dream big, but also to live in hope and to make our own resolutions about how we can live our lives for God.
Let's not just go make or keep resolutions to give ourselves a pat on the back, to lose weight or to quit smoking. Rather, let's go into the world, dreaming of resolutions that make our lives and our world a better place, and daring to resolve to live our lives for God.
With those resolution made and kept, the rest will take care of itself.
—Erin Carroll, graduate assistant for Mission and Ministry