by Emily Lopez
The beginning of a new year is a time for both optimistically looking forward and a reflection on the past year.
We are immediately pushed from post-Christmas sales into the business of self-improvement with offers for discounted gym memberships, personal nutrition plans and new year planners to remind us that we are in desperate need of bettering ourselves.
As Christians, this is not a new idea. We know that we are imperfect people living in a flawed world. However, we also know that working out, eating right or living organized cannot fill our need for more.
We are driven to seek perfection because we are created by a perfect God in his image and likeness. Living in a sinful world cannot change the deep desire of our soul toward perfection. We know perfection exists — not through this world, but because we were created immediately by God and our soul remains connected to him. Our soul is the unique element of humanity that most especially reflects God’s image, is of highest value to him and the “spiritual principle” of being human (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 363). We are human souls with bodies.
Regardless of God’s value for our soul, the world has little regard or interest in it. Everywhere we look, we are influenced by the “perfect” appearance and pressured to conform. Our physical health is important; we should be mindful of living a healthy lifestyle in response to God’s gift of our body. But an extreme focus on our physical body to the detriment of our soul is not healthy. Our body is made human through our soul.
The power of worldly influence seeks to constantly remind us that the current version of ourselves is not enough. We are told that the joy we seek is found in perfected bodies and busier lives . . . or the relationships we deeply crave would present themselves if we were more physically attractive.
The most important relationship you will ever seek is dependent on none of this. The truth is that you are not enough; you will never find the joy you long for outside of Christ.
As you consider renewal in the new year, remember the longing and great value of your soul. Let God penetrate your heart, reminding you of your intrinsic value as his beloved child and inviting you to grow in his love this upcoming year.