I heard someone say, “I love the New Year, but I’m ready for the ‘new’ New Year.” As convoluted as that sounded to my ear, deep down inside, I knew exactly what she meant. She loved the excitement of the New Year- the promises made, the daring dreams, the hopeful resolve that comes when we evaluate the past year as we stare down the new one down, wondering, ‘how will you be different? how will you better?’
I tend to get lost in that whirlwind of wishful thinking too, so this post, this New Year’s post coming twenty-four days in, is my “New” New Year post. I wanted to see if the goals I had would stick and if the posture I assumed would stretch me in all the best ways, so I waited until today to share my OneWord365.
I’m confident it’s the right one and God has endless lessons to teach me through it.
My OneWord365 for 2015 needed to encapsulate the shalom- God’s wholeness for us, that I’m always talking about.
So, for days leading up to the New Year, I wondered, ‘what word could give me the grace I need to tackle another year and the hope I need to seek shalom in 2015, without the shame that follows when I don’t hit benchmarks or clear a to-do list?’ January 1 came and no word followed so I wrote this Facebook status to brainstorm the boundaries for this would-be word.
Things I want to pay attention to this New Year:
1: Take a multivitamin everyday because life is short and I like cake.
2: Use my dish-washing time every night to pray. I don’t pray enough and taking a sink full of dishes and creating order is a perfect metaphor for taking my hot mess heart full of worries to Jesus for him to make peace.
3: Only drinking coffee out with friends or writing. Money on coffee should only be spent when building community or encouraging my tribe.
4: WRITE MORE: stop second-guessing and start trusting that words are for sharing not rattling around in my head, bumping into each other, leaving echos of insecurity in my soul.
5: Look my children in the eyes when they speak to me. Just a simple Imago-dei honoring, being present with my babies parenting practice. Sadly, I rarely stop to pay attention when they talk, I’m just so “go, go, go”!
6: Watch one TedTalk a day, take notes, and reflect on a take-away: the world is big, ideas are important, stories rule the day, and my perspective is one of many. I can’t be shalom practitioner if I’m not willing to be a good listener and a faithful learner.
7: Read emotionally hard books: “The New Jim Crow” and “The Blue Sweater”- I’m looking at you! I cannot empathize and mobilize to change the brokenness of this world if I’m unwilling to sacrifice my emotional comfort.
And that phrase, “shalom practitioner” jumped right out. Deep down inside I knew the word I wanted for this year, “practice”. I wanted to embrace a year of practicing all the things I know to be true:
A kind word turns away wrath.
Perfect love drives away fear.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
I can offer my body up as a living sacrifice.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
And so many more truths that I know, but sadly, at times, I doubt. I doubt these truths because I doubt my ability to live them out. What I’ve learned from other New Year’s resolutions and the inevitable “failure” when I don’t lose the pounds, write the book, clear the closest- is that doubt comes from an energy zapping desire to give 100% in every one, every day. Madness, isn’t it? So, this year, I’m reliving the pressure by reframing my language about goal setting: I’m practicing truth this year and changing my language. This month I’ve found myself saying:
“Today, I will practice kindness towards my kids.”
“Right now, I’m practicing self-control and not eating an extra slice of pizza.”
“This morning I will practice faithfulness by writing a blog post to encourage my readers.”
Because really, on this side of the Kingdom we’re just practicing, aren’t we? We’re in this already made perfected but not yet so, state that’s so confusing when we add the pressure of the world. I want to live into my identity by taking small steps towards my best self. Since, I started thinking of myself as a practitioner of truth, as opposed to an expert- I’ve been more settled, more sure, more confident.
And really, isn’t that what we all want for our New Year’s? To be women who are not just the thing: skinny, organized, accomplished, peaceful but women who know how to make space to “be” the thing. By practicing instead of pressuring myself, I hope to create this space in my life this 2015.
Practicing dignifies our intelligence and invites us to flex those muscles (literal and metaphorical) just waiting below the excess of our expectations and anxieties.
Will you join me in practicing the truth you already know this 2015? If so, what is it? What could you practice daily, hourly, that’ll tone those character muscles in you?