Do you do New Year’s resolutions?
I sort of do. I set some intentions based on who I want to be, goals I’d like to accomplish, and barriers I’d like to overcome. It’s nothing super specific or targeted. But this year, with one girl just entering the ‘tween years and one full-fledged teenager, there’s a certain urgency to get busy making that progress toward better health in every area.
I guess the question is, What will we need most in the coming year?
There’s the usual things–eat better, workout more, use better tracking and measures for both. But if these are just ways to improve myself, that’s going to fail. It’s not motivating enough.
Similarly, I know that if I want to improve my parenting, my relationships, my work and my play, I need a higher purpose.
I looked back to previous years’ posts and I saw how I fell short. Maybe it’s because of all the challenges I faced. I got sick, got busy, got distracted, and I forgot God and caring for others around me. Other factors conspired too: bad weather, discouraging words, circumstances. At times I was handed heavy weights of pain.
It was frustrating. But not all those challenges produced were such bad things. They slowed me down, made me reckon with the reality of life.
Being sick forced me to slow down and just be with God. Being overworked forced me to pray and fight distraction. And being distracted made me better appreciate the value of the gift of time.
If I can simply remember that nothing worthwhile comes easy, that time and again it’s proven–no real struggle, no real progress–maybe I can slash failure out as a possibility for 2017. What I seem to need most are reminders–monthly, weekly, and daily–that every struggle is a chance to depend more fully on God, to embrace my inadequacy.
Why can’t that be my resolution for 2017?
I could seek out the struggling more, stand with the suffering. I could believe that some struggle is necessary if I’m going to appreciate and love God properly. I could trust that without trials and burdens I wouldn’t realize how much I need God.
Is this the good, the true, the beautiful higher purpose to be sought in this new year? To know that struggle and pain brings deeper dependence on God? Isn’t that the freedom from all fear of failure I’ve been seeking? This year, can I resolve not to forget and not to get busy with plans and avoid all the struggle, and miss the real point?
This year, I want to do more than plan to avoid struggle. I want to plan for a new resolution. I want to track my progress toward a higher weekly goal: to remember that God is with me in all things.
This year, I could resolve to set aside selfish goals for a higher purpose.
…To know that when pain and difficulty come, I can remember to stay open to God’s voice and listen to it, ready to see what he has for me and others there.
I’ve said it all my life: no pain, no gain. Can I lay down my life in this way? Even invite struggling with others, the needy, the ones I’m here to love?
I don’t want to go on protecting my life, seeking my own gain, improving my status and reputation, striving for bigger and better in all things.
I want to resolve not to do that this year.
I want to resolve to remember God’s higher purpose and stand with the suffering.
I want to do this expecting something totally different come next Christmas. I want to finally let go and live what I believe. Because this I know:
Embracing struggle and pain and continuing to hope that God has a higher purpose for it all is our only hope of true progress this year.
This old world will break our hearts and make us despair if we don’t commit to this harder way. If there’s a spark inside you to do something different this year, don’t wait to fan it into a flame. Follow that voice of inspiration, and seek this higher purpose. The new year of blank days stretches out before you….
The new year of blank days stretches out before you….
We can resolve this, and know the thrill of freedom from any chance of failure. With this hope, there is no fail, only gain.
For it’s all for a higher purpose, in all He has in store for us this year,
p.s. I’ve been heading this way for a few months now, inspired by Ann’s most recent memoir, The Broken Way. If you’d like inspiration in following this idea in 2017, I can’t recommend the book any stronger.