I don’t know about you but I find something refreshing about starting a new year. We come off of a usually busy but hopefully enjoyable Christmas holiday and jump into a changing of the datesa new year. I’m not one for big celebrations (and with young kids staying up to midnight is a tall order), so I usually like to be reflective and enjoy the refresh button and the opportunity to look back on the blessings of one year and look ahead with great joy and anticipation to a year coming.
But if I had to be honest, there is one part of New Year’s that I do not care for: those pesky resolutions. And even if you choose not to do one, you are bound to discuss them. I find that conversations between Christmas and New Year’s generally follow this template:
“How was your Christmas?”
“Any plans for New Year’s Eve?”
[insert answer here]
“How about any resolutions?”
There you go, it almost always happens this way. And though I don’t have any issue with telling someone that I don’t generally like or set resolutions, I am faced with this being part of the New Year’s tradition.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I feel this way. Well, I’ve been thinking on this a lot and it’s really been on my mind to share.
I’m currently in my thirties, and for the majority of my life I have felt like I was never really good enough. Sadly the source of this comes from my own insecurities and feeling like I never match up to the expectations that our culture holds. I have felt this way in many circumstances: in my vocation as a mother, in my role as a wife, in my keeping a home, in being a Christian woman. Now, I don’t want this to become a discourse on the unrealistic societal expectations for women, but I hope others can relate to the feeling of not meeting up to someone else’s standards.
I always felt this drive to be the perfect person. In high school, I felt that I needed to achieve perfect grades and graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.
As a young Christian woman, I felt (and have many times over my spiritual journey) that in order to be right with Christ, I should be devoting a set amount of time with God every day to pray, read my Bible and just listen to his guidance.
When I met and married my husband, another set of “rules” came into play, and I strove to meet all of them.
At the same time, we built a home together, and I felt a whole other set of responsibilities.
A year into our marriage, we had our first child (and have added two more in our five years of marriage), and with motherhood came an enormous set of expectations to meet.
Are you exhausted just listening to this? It makes me exhausted remembering! And I reflect on how many times I set goals for myself, resolutions if you will, to meet these expectations and often failed them. Well, not even just often, most of the time. I would falter in a task, and instead of shaking it off, I would count that goal as failed and move on to my low self-esteem and another unmet expectation.
And that’s how resolutions (generally) work, right? You set some finite goal. You strive to meet that goal every day, of every week of every month of the new year. And when on day two, or week three or months into it you don’t meet that goal, it’s a failed resolution and you give up. Maybe this hasn’t occurred for all of you, and if this doesn’t sound familiar to you, I applaud your wise ways! Resolutions hurt. Or they can. Well, at least for me they did. So I stopped making them. And I continued to live thinking I could be a better version of me but that my current method of achieving greatness wasn’t working. So I chose to just live on autopilot for a while.
But there’s something about being a child of God that just doesn’t like to live on autopilot. If you are truly seeking him, your soul just won’t let you. God is so awesome that he seeks to refine us, purify us and create in us a new spirit that can live in fellowship with God.
And all those set expectations I thought I was “supposed” to achieve are not set by God but by man. What a relief it was for me when I finally took that message to heart. My spiritual journey in the past several years has given me a bountiful amount of positive messages. I’m going to do a lot of paraphrasing here on the messages that God has given me over the past few years because that is just how my mind works. Listen to these messages (from women’s Bible study, Mothers of Preschoolers-MOPS, Christian mommy blogs and books):
- God has created you to be a masterpiece.
- You are uniquely created to serve where God has created you to serve.
- You may be a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess.
- God works through the most unique people to deliver his message.
- We are all part of the body of Christ, and just as a body is made up of many unique parts, so we too are unique.
- Love God with all your heart.
- We are called to live our lives with an open fistto live generously with our resources (of all kinds).
And my list could go on and on.
These messages have taken root in my soul, and I’ve thrown out the lists of expectations and finite goals that were supposed to make me “perfect”. The Methodist faith talks a lot about sanctification. Our faith journey is not meant to have a final destination this side of heaven; we are meant to be continually seeking to improve and better our lives and our walks with God. We are meant to sanctify our relationship through our thoughts, words and deeds. While we are taking steps continually to be sanctified in Christ, our full sanctification happens on that glorious day when Christ will come again.
In the meantime, I’m celebrating the small successes on my journey. A big step was throwing out those lists and realizing that I am on my sanctification journey. I celebrate each day that I get a load of laundry done and put away. I celebrate the moment of putting my phone down and spending a good half hour with my kids instead of getting “something done.” I celebrate completing my Women of the Word (WOW) Bible study or spending quiet time with God. I celebrate my youngest child mimicking the family prayer time on his own. I celebrate another day of healthy eating on my current healthy eating challenge (not a true resolution). I celebrate the kindness my child shows because I’ve been showing him kindness or showing others kindness. I celebrate each and every step that I take on the journey. So while I love New Year’s and the refresh moment that it brings, you won’t really see me setting any finite resolutions. Rather, I will celebrate the child of God that I am, that God desires to see me working toward my sanctification in my faith and delights in the steps that I take in the positive direction toward that goal.
Oh, and those feelings of failure, or not feeling good enough? Well, I’m human, they show up in my heart every once in a while, but I sure don’t let them take up residence. I, instead, try to take that step forward the next day. Don’t dwell on the past, but keep my eyes to the light. I hope these words can encourage you to take a step forward on your journey toward God and toward that ultimate reward:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Submitted by Amanda Nicklas.