Here we are, standing on top of a new year, the future months waiting as unrevealed opportunities. What are your hopes for the New Year? Do you long to become a different person? Do you wrestle with any lingering behaviors or past downfalls that continue to haunt you? Would you like to get out of a relational, emotional, or professional rut?

Many of us attempt to grab hold of new opportunities by making New Year’s resolutions and gritting our teeth to change ourselves through discipline and sheer will. We beat ourselves up about never getting to the gym, eating too much chocolate, or spending too much time on our devices, so we set goals to be different in the coming year. Then the following year we find ourselves making the same resolutions because white-knuckling our way through a major life change just did not seem to stick.

How about resolving to handle New Year’s resolutions differently this year? By inviting God to set the agenda for the months ahead and make the changes in us, we could all take our resolutions to a new, deeper level, allowing him to whisper our unique needs and create an individualized plan for our growth. He might even surprise us, leading our growth in an unexpected direction.

Begin by finding a quiet place with him, bringing only your journal, a Bible, and a listening ear. Do tell him where you would like to grow, but listen carefully in case he has surprising ways he might want to grow you.

Maybe he’d like to veer your heart away from grumbling and turn it toward thankfulness, filling you with expressions of gratitude for a warm house, hot coffee, kind Christian community, music, books, and his guiding spirit.

Maybe he sees how you focus too much on yourself—either thinking too highly of yourself, or too little of yourself by believing you have nothing to offer others. God’s perspective always brings us back into balance.

He might encourage you to work on forgiveness this year, pointing you to people you need to reach out to. Maybe he feels the time has come to reveal a secret, allowing others to truly know you by seeing both your strengths and your past mistakes.

God wants to grow us at any age. In Chris Fabry’s latest book, Under a Cloudless Sky, the main character is an elderly woman struggling to maintain her independence as her kids take away her car keys. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s favorite radio preacher stirs up something within her that needs the touch of forgiveness, she sets out on a journey to face a long-held secret from her past and feel the freedom that comes with forgiveness and being known.

Many of us may need to take the same steps as Ruby. But whatever his plan is for you in the coming year, it will be uniquely yours, offering the freedom that comes with obedience, replacing darkness with light.

Do you have a way you like to welcome in the New Year with God? Please share in the comments below.