January is more than halfway complete and I don’t know about you, but the newness of 2018 has already lost some of its shimmer in the day-to-day of ordinary life over here.
I’ve never had a great relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. At this point in my life, the entire idea of them puts me in touch with feelings of pressure, skepticism, and disappointment.
Nevertheless, every year I find myself fixed on the possibility of fresh pages and new seasons. I can’t stay away from silent reflections over the past year, nor keep my heart from longing and dreaming. Some years I’ve picked one word to focus on, and while I’ve loved the simplicity and intentionality of that practice, I’ve yet to come up with a word for this year.
Instead of waiting for the perfect word, or making a list of things to do that all stem from the places where I see weaknesses and shortcomings, I decided to think about the open months ahead in a frame of hopes. Instead of beating myself up and pushing hard and harder, I am choosing to work from a place of kindness.
It’s not too late to think about what you hope for this year. It’s not too late to look back on the last year and reflect. It’s not too late to dream. No matter how 2018 has already started; I want to invite you to think about how your hopes and God’s tender, forgiving kindness can grow and guide you in the months ahead.
Here are specific 3 things I am working towards and hoping for in 2018:
1. More art
As a mama whose work is staying home with small people, trying to find ways to incorporate art into our everyday has felt near impossible. Most days I see the same toy-cluttered carpet while feeling like I am drowning in laundry, legos, crumbs, distraction tactics and the constant, minute by minute needs of little people. I remember a time in my life when looking at art, appreciating it, or letting it speak or tell a story kept me inspired as a writer and a creative person. It’s also always helped to keep my heart soft and the passion in my spirit alive. I don’t want to go back to the person I was then, but I do want to figure out how to intentionally find ways to bring art into our everyday lives now. I’m starting simple by planning a couple of outings to the art museum nearby, and by jotting down other ideas on how to do this as they come to mind. Have ideas of your own? Please share them.
2. Less apologizing
I’ve struggled with saying sorry when there’s no sorry due for a very long time. Using the word as if I am the blame for everything has stemmed from believing the lie that it’s actually my fault for any hiccup, imperfection or pain found in the situations and lives around me. Not only is this unhelpful, it takes away from the moments when a real apology is due. Stopping myself from an unnecessary sorry and letting the silent space I would normally fill with a “sorry” linger, has been empowering in a small way. Each time I stop myself is a tiny affirmation and reminder that my presence isn’t a problem and that I was indeed made to take up space and unapologetically be who God has made me to be.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
It’s in knowing his tender kindness that I’ve learned and continue learning how to see and treat myself. And it’s in seeing myself as he sees me and receiving it, that I’ve learned and continue learning how to treat others. This past year I have uncovered places within where I harbor a stubborn unkindness towards myself. I see how it stunts my growth and ability to love others well. I cannot live out Paul’s exhortation above unless I receive the kindness and tenderhearted forgiveness of Jesus in those places where I am resistant to do so. I am also discovering that the kinder I am to myself, the more motivated I become to do things like eat healthier, take time to exercise and care for myself. It seems like a better, more lasting way to approach the goals I would normally list at the beginning of a new year.
What about you? What are you hoping for this year? How will you be kinder and more tender and forgiving towards yourself? Do you know that God is this way towards you?