Happy New Year!
I struggle to put into words my thoughts about this time of year.
A new year and set of resolutions is a very daunting prospect for a mother. Any mother I know is pretty much full to the brim of trying and commitments and doing her best. Most of the moms I know are exhausted at the end of every day — and the beginning of every day, if we’re speaking honestly.
So how is a mother to crack the seal on a new year and ask anything of herself but just to keep up with a little less anxiety or self-condemnation than she had last year?
I know a lot of people who don’t believe in resolutions because the studies and the personal experience reveal that most of them don’t last much longer than the first couple of weeks of the new year, and what is the point of setting oneself up for failure? I completely, totally “get” that line of thinking.
Any yet… there is something to it, this idea of taking stock of the past year, and giving some serious thought to the lessons I’ve learned and the new direction I want to take. Fresh starts are a gift, and I will not allow my own fear of failure to tie my hands back from receiving that gift.
Change may be hard to come by, and many times I try and fail. But I am quite sure that I never changed from not trying anything at all.
I can’t be ashamed of that fact that I am not perfect. While I cannot expect perfection or ask it from myself or anyone else, I do hope for, desire, and expect efforts to improve.
Today at church we heard a beautiful message, which referenced the story in the Old Testament (Numbers 13-14, specifically) from which I selected my son’s name (Caleb). The story is about a group of scouts from Israel being sent into the Promised Land to survey it. When they came back, the majority of them were afraid, and recommended not trying to enter that Promised Land. Just two dissenting voices (one was a man named Caleb!) believed that because they had the Lord on their side, they could enter that Land and claim what was promised for their nation and their families. Pastor John described it this way: those who were afraid had their eyes on their own smallness. Those who had the courage to enter the Promised Land had their eyes on their God and the power of their calling.
Any time I dwell on my own self, on my own smallness, on the embarrassing fact of my own weakness and the truth that I have to apologize to someone every single day of my life for some new failing, I will lose the ability to open up and let a good work be done in me, through my life. I want the Spirit in me to be willing to stare hard at the goal. The great news is — the prize is a promise that not even I can lose. There is so much giddy joy at the knowledge that I can’t really mess it up! I might just enjoy the prize more and more as I focus in on the goal.
So I’m setting goals, and looking hard at what has brought turmoil and dissonance into my life. I don’t set resolutions so much as I am creating goals for myself and learning to create new habits on the daily. I don’t aim to do anything big this year — in fact, I am trying really hard to be small (“make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” – 1 Thess 4:11a). I am hoping to lay a foundation that can remain a stabilizing factor for myself and my family, come what may. I want to open that door for love, joy, and peace to flow freely in and out of my home.
“12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you continue. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” (Phil 3: 12-16)
Not looking for perfect adherence to a list of resolutions, but an open heart and renewed focus on the “goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And there is so much grace in there, I don’t have to worry when I fall. Fresh starts abound. Every year, every day, every second.
Love you all! Happy New Year!