A SIMPLE CASE AGAINST RESOLUTIONS*
*AND A CASE FOR SOMETHING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT
I'm not quite sure what exactly turned me off to making resolutions in the new year. Perhaps it was the mentality that I needed to "be better" or I needed to "try harder," when the things I've been learning for several years now echo more of a graceful sentiment: for it is through grace you have been saved, and it is the gift of God, not your own doing, so no one can boast. Each year I would make a few resolutions, and three months later I'd have nothing to show. Not only because of my lack of self-discipline (I'd say at the time, but let's be honest, I'm still working on it), but also because life gets in the way. Real, unpredictable, busy, complicated life. It's been about five years since I decided to take a different route.
In the beginning of 2013 I began choosing a few words for each year. I chose words I wanted to describe me. Words I wanted to make changes about. Concepts I wanted to understand better. I didn't set up parameters (which, if you know me well is a pretty big deal), but I spent the first few days or week of the year praying these words, asking the Lord for opportunities in the coming year to strengthen in these ways, to gain wisdom in these areas. As a result, I've seen God do amazing things. I've seen him change my heart on multiple occasions to love the things of heaven and pass on the things of the world. I've seen him teach me obedience in areas that I never considered a question. I've been convicted of things I never knew I struggled with, and I've found joy and friendship as I sought out ways to fortify my relationships with family, friends and even strangers.
There have been times that I didn't see as much growth as I hoped, but as I go from year to year, I still see the same concepts and thoughts coming up from years past. I focused on generosity in 2014, and I was still seeing chances to build on that in 2017. I prayed about confidence in 2017, and I'm hoping to grow even more in that in 2018, since I'm pretty sure I flaked on a few of the chances the Lord gave me to stand up straight in the identity he's given me. These focal points for each year have continued to build upon each other for five years, and I'm thankful for the growth and the insight I've gained from this tradition (of sorts). Sometimes it seems overwhelming, and when it does I look at scripture and remember that I'm being made day by day into a dwelling place for the spirit, a temple for the Lord. I think of the traits of Jesus, aiming to set my heart on things above. The words I choose each year serve as an anchor, and my memory is jogged so quickly when I see the ways God has provided for me to grow, to answer his call of obedience in those ways specifically. I don't always come through as I'd like to, but that's where grace gives me some wiggle room, and where resolutions do not. Trying harder will not get me where I want to go, but listening, obeying and trusting will take me there, to the feet of Jesus.
THOUGHTS ON TWENTY-SEVENTEEN
L I S T E N E R • In 2016 I spend a load of time talking. I was thankful for the friends I had who listened to me in transition, hearing all my woes of repatriation and my stories of the past couple years, but I wanted to give that time back to my folks this year. I know for sure I could have improved upon this more, but I'm thankful for the times I was able to lend an ear, and the amount of joy it gave me to see it as a way to serve others.
R E S O U R C E F U L • A couple of months ago someone paid me a compliment, "I didn't know who to ask, but you're resourceful, so I figured I'd give it a shot." I'm constantly surrounded by friends who love to collect information. I'm a trivia-loving nerd but often feel that I lack common sense. When offering help this year, I aimed to help folks connect the dots, and it showed me that not knowing the answer doesn't really make me useless.
C O N F I D E N T • When I moved to Nashville I made a choice to push myself out of my introvert zone a little more, going out to meet strangers I only knew through the internet, going to parties and introducing myself with pride. I learned quickly that the confidence I had couldn't be sustained by my own fervor, God gave me more opportunities to talk about him through my bravery than anything else.
LOOKING TO TWENTY-EIGHTEEN
S A C R I F I C I A L • (adj.) Designed to be used up in fulfilling a purpose or function. I struggled to find a word that meant generosity + risk-taking + self-disciplined. I'm praying that this year the Lord provides ways for me be sacrificial in giving my time, my money, in choosing the better things, the more beautiful things, and in taking leaps of faith. I want to give all that I have with everything that I do, knowing I was meant to be used for a purpose.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
A S S U R E D • (adj.) Protected against discontinuance or change. Not sure if I've ever heard the word "discontinuance" used before, but I know that I want to take extra pains to protect my mind and heart from anxiety this year. Anxiety is not a bad thing inherently, but when it creates undue stress and panic in my life, I'm not a fan. Seeking out professional counseling is one of the greatest things I did for myself in 2017, and I've already seen the effects, looking forward to practicing this in 2018 and looking to the Lord for my comfort and stay.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
P R A Y E R F U L • (adj.) Characterized by prayer; given to praying. Obviously that definition is a no brainer, which I'd like prayer to be in my life as well. I've heard over and over from different sources, "Your spiritual life never rises above your prayer life." I've already got some tools, but I'm excited to spend a year focusing on developing my communication with God, and in the same vein, in learning to more clearly and earnestly intercede for my community.
O my God, incline your ear and hear... For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your
I also learned a great deal this year about consistency and tradition. About making Ebenezers, about celebrating every season no matter how joyous or difficult. This is one thing from the past years that I have enjoyed immensely, it causes me to pause and to reflect in ways that only point me to the character of my maker. If you want to do this with me, please shoot me a message online or via email, I want to hear your words!