Ah, a new year. The perfectionist’s dream come true. Totally clean slate, lists aplenty, and lots of fellow passengers on the get-‘er-done crazy train.
Truth be told, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m more a fan of deciding something needs to be done and then doing it, no matter the date. If you decide on March 18th that you need to watch less TV, then put that into effect on March 18th, not on Sunday (to start the week right), on Monday (if you’re a Monday-starter instead), or on Jan. 1. Just, you know, do it.
Nonetheless, I do tend to make a resolution or two. Last year I made exactly one, which was based on Philippians 4:11—I resolved to be content no matter my circumstances.
The resolution was meant to apply to the big things. Instead of bemoaning very real non-first-world-problems, I was to accept them in stride, recognizing them as part of a grand plan about which I can know nothing. Now, a year later, I can say that I followed this part of the resolution pretty well, and learned a thing or two about contentment, acceptance, trust, and faith along the way. I’m very happy with this, and I plan to keep this one going indefinitely.
But I can also see where I allowed my resolve to “be content” to take over the day-to-day of life, and how I somehow turned finding contentment in the big things to letting myself be lazy in the little things.
It started off slow. I’d catch myself getting upset that the craziness of life was taking over things—such as healthy meals, exercise, and routines for the kids—then I’d remind myself that it’s all part of life and that instead of stressing I should be content and go with the flow.
Some of this was good: I learned that it’s okay to use paper plates sometimes, even when guests come over, and that if life mandates that I use a store-bought pie crust or frozen biscuits, then so be it.
Some of this was not so good. I learned that, in the fatigue-induced haze of the middle years, I find it exceptionally easy to convince myself the kids don’t really need a bath every day every other day, and that given the overwhelming love of literature in our household, an hour hours of Baby TV probably won’t be too detrimental to the little guy.
So after 12 months of seeing how I balance going easy on myself with going too-easy on myself, I’m going to try a new way of doing things. I don’t know if you’d call this decision a “resolution,” so much as a column-style list of things broken down into what it’s okay to be a bit lax about and what it isn’t, and then living accordingly. For instance, if I don’t have time to read the 27 tabs that are open on my screen—generally consisting of humorous blog posts linked to by friends on Facebook—I think I can live guilt-free. If I don’t have time to listen to NPR while I make dinner, thus stopping me from keeping up with important news in the world, I may want to reprioritize a bit. If I haven’t bathed either kid in over a week, I’d say it’s time to reprioritize a lot.
My husband and I have a lot of good things coming up in 2014, most of which will probably end up being written about here. It’s going to be really easy to get overwhelmed, overworked, stressed out, and bogged down. That’s what the global we tend to do—take our blessings and make them self-inflicted curses of overwork. A good friend of mine wrote recently about this, reminding us all that we must enjoy our good things as gifts.
So in the end, if I have to make a list of resolutions, I think these are my three:
— keep the contentment ball rolling
— re-prioritize to give scarce energy to the important things and don’t feel guilty for neglecting the not-so-important things
— and enjoy my good things as gifts
4 thoughts on “Inbetween the Cooking, Resolving to Do it Right”
I’m not a resolver either, Jamie. Like you, I’d rather see something that needs changing and just get on it, whether it’s on January 1 or some other date. Then again, this time of year does lend itself to reflection and that’s not a bad thing to do.
Neither am I a fan of New Years resolutions. Your title for this piece speaks to me, too, Jamie. I envied the people I know who go to convents on retreats or have other places they go to for rest and reflection until I realized that if I cannot create a “place apart” in my mind right here in these rooms, I am not going to be able to co-operate with God’s plans for the coming days, months, or longer. Before I can know what to resolve, I need a sense of what God will be doing; without that insight I will miss the peace, faith, and hope that prepares my heart for His future. Wherever I am, if I can listen, He may speak to me.
With a relatively quiet few days (only three major crises of the heart-stopping, pray-desperately-in-the-moment type with police literally or figuratively in the background) around Christmas, I was praying while at work in the kitchen, and I discerned that God is moving in power. That means that I will see remarkable works of His mercy and goodness that include success in the work He has called me to. I ran to my desk to find pen and paper as the Words surfaced in my consciousness. Sounds almost cliche, doesn’t it? But those Words came to my quieted mind about concerns for which there are no easy or perhaps even believable human answers: seemingly intractable behavior problems and seemingly insurmountable business concerns.
To have the deepest of all possible awareness that circumstances WILL change beyond all likelihood is not a new experience for me. I have heard God speak and then have seen God move in ways so absurdly unexpected as to be hilarious, breath-taking, heart-breaking, live-saving, or otherwise awe-inspiring. Thus, I believe those difficult Words and I resolve to align myself with them. I am enabled to be peaceful and to offer hope to others who have lost expectation of change in a downward spiral. I have been warned and, therefore, I am cushioned against shock and disarray when changes occur. I can prepare for success as Elijah prepared his altar for fire from Heaven in the face of idolaters. My mind is conditioned by praise in the present for this promise for the future: “I will strike joy into the hearts of my people.” Thus, my circuitry won’t melt ecstatically when the unbelievable happens. I have noticed that already my dreams have changed from constructions of anxiety to depictions of restoration and wholeness.
Wishing you a New Year of powerful peace, change, and fulfillment of the most soul-satifying kind!
Love this, Jamie, and I love the idea of putting one verse like Phil 4:11 at the center of our resolve and prayers . And thank you for the link love. 🙂 it thrills to be counted as your good friend!
A good friend is a rare blessing indeed. Thanks for your willingness to be such a gift in my life.