Eden Chen

Reflections on 2018 and Resolutions for 2019: “Two-Facedness”

Eden Chen December 25, 2018

Reflections on 2018 and Resolutions for 2019: “Two-Facedness”

As 2019 approaches and the markets finally start collapsing (after 10 years of prosperity), the word that sticks in my mind is growth. All of us want to grow but very few of us are willing to change. Though I’ve hit many of my goals professionally, without adequate reflection I’m not sure how those goals got there in the first place. I need to grow in gentleness and I’m overly critical, I have very little discipline in the things that don’t bring immediate results, I haven’t grown in many of the ways that I wanted to — spiritually, professionally, and personally.

New Years tends to be a time when many of us feel most whole and unsatisfied at the same time. We spend time with family, work slows down to a pause and we’re able to remember what matters most. At the same time we contrive resolutions and reflect on goals and promises that went unmet — we feel the weight of how far we are from where we want to be.

I believe this dissonance is rooted in what I’ll call our two-facedness. There’s a side of us that always knows what we ought to do. And yet we often choose to pursue something else. It could be that something else provides more immediate stimulus and makes us feel good (social media or porn — yes, I’m putting them in the same box here). Or that doing the right thing is hard (working out), or for even more layered reasons. Our pride doesn’t allow us to apologize for lashing out or admitting that we went too far with something. We feel inadequate so it’s hard for us to let go of unhealthy patterns or relationships that make us feel special. We medicate and distract ourselves with drugs, shopping, sports, kids, jobs, whatever helps us ignore the root problem that we have — our two-facedness.

New Years allows us to start over with a clean slate and it feels great to make goals for the next year. New Years is never enough though. That clean slate gets messed up pretty quickly when our two-facedness rears its ugly head. I believe the Bible communicated this clearly in Romans 7:15–19

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Resolutions for 2019 are important but reflecting on the gospel as I remember all my failures in 2018 is even more important. This is the only solution that I’ve ever found for my two-facedness. The gospel says that in Christ, we are more than adequate and we are called sons, daughters, and heirs, even as we all know that we will never meet our resolutions. The gospel says that we can’t have pride because, on our own, we are completely inadequate.

As I work through my resolutions today, I’m reminded that I need Jesus. What we ought to do tends to be harder than doing the things that are most natural to us (contrary to the mass marketing that tells us to do the things that make us feel good) so meeting any of these is going to be challenging, and I will likely fail at a bunch of them.

  • Resolved this year to publically blog once a week on topics like Jesus, business, and culture
  • Resolved this year to exercise 3 times a week so that I can maximize my overall productivity and energy levels
  • Resolved this year to go on 4 trips (once per quarter), including one international trip (Hong Kong to visit my sister in law?)
  • Resolved this year not to masterbate, which is unhealthy for my mind, my marriage, and my relationship with Jesus
  • Resolved this year to read the Bible and go through the devotional Reading the Scriptures by Alan Stibbs every morning I’m able to
  • Resolved this year to spend every Friday with Talitha and exposing her to as much Jesus, love, and culture as possible
  • Resolved this year to not buy any clothes or shoes that I don’t absolutely need
  • Resolved this year to spend regular (once every 2 weeks?) one-on-one time with my closest friends so that we can deepen our friendships
  • Resolved to go on one date night a week with my wife
  • Resolved this year to read these books, 2 at a time:
  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (started)
  2. The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (started, rereading this)
  3. Strategic Project Management Made Easy by Terry Schmidt (started)
  4. Big Debt Crises by Ray Dalio
  5. Gospel & Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy
  6. How to Castrate a Bull by Dave Hitz
  7. Gospel & Wisdom by Graeme Goldsworthy
  8. Cutting Edge, Gillette’s Journey to Global Leadership by Gordon McKibben
  9. The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
  10. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  11. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  12. Woke Church by Eric Mason

Hold me accountable to these! Praying for a single face for me in 2019, that I have the strength and freedom to pursue the things that I know I ought to, and that I stay close enough to the gospel to forgive myself when I don’t.

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