As I was reflecting with Amy on 2017, the theme we had for the year was "scars." We're all emerging into 2018 with some new scars, but we're thankful for them. Scars tell a story. Our stories are ones of healing and grace. The stories have plenty of hardship and pain. They also include feeling isolated and frustrated - even scared. “But we all suffer. For we all prize and love; and in this present existence of ours, prizing and loving yield suffering. Love in our world is suffering love. Some do not suffer much, though, for they do not love much. Suffering is for the loving. This, said Jesus, is the command of the Holy One: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." In commanding us to love, God invites us to suffer.” ― Nicholas Wolterstorff, "
I'm not huge on New Year's Resolutions. I guess that is because I don't really believe in self-improvement for self-improvement's sake. Meaning, I don't believe it is really sustainable to focus on ways to better myself simply for my own self-confidence, physical appearance or well-being, or even career advancement or social status. If I set a new year's resolution to get a 6-pack (abs not beer), even if I achieved a washboard stomach I know I would be disappointed. I know it wouldn't be enough. I can look at old pictures of myself when I was much more slim and fit and working out almost every day, and I now realize that at the time I didn't think I looked good at all. My mindset during that time was that I was still too fat, or needed to work harder to attain some sort of body image that now I'm certain was not even realistic. I was focused on pleasing myself by attaining a better body, but it was never enough. What I really needed was a routine workout for my soul, so I could gain a more healthy perspective on why I was struggling with body image. I needed a guide and a good word to come alongside me and teach me true humility and a better purpose for my life. I'm reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote that says, "True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."
In 2018, there are a couple of areas I want to focus on. But these "resolutions" or goals are only worthwhile if I have noble purpose. This purpose must be to serve and to love others, as Jesus called us to. Without that kind of purpose behind a new year's resolution, I believe we're simply on a circular racetrack, racing against someone we literally can't outrun: ourselves.
Two things God has laid on my heart for 2018:
- Have we positioned our finances in a way that allows us to first be generous before we focus on our own comfort?
- Are we teaching our children to be generous? Or are they learning that work, money and time are dedicated to us accumulating more stuff and nicer stuff?
- If I audited my time, and categorized it, would it indicate that I'm generous with my time in service to others? What can I trim from my routine to be more generous with my time?
- Do my kids feel like I prioritize other things in front of them?
- How can I better serve my best friend and the most important person in my life, Amy?
- Am I diligent about managing my schedule?
- Do I look ahead enough, and say "no" enough?
- Do I eat and exercise today like I have a goal of being healthy and active enough to know and be in relationship with my grandchildren?
- Do I eat and exercise today like I'm focused on serving Amy?
- If I get a lot of fulfillment and creative inspiration out of writing, why am I not routinely scheduling time to do this?
- Why can I not finish a book?
- Am I finding time to rest by having peace and silence, so I can hear God's voice?
I'm sure there are more self-reflective questions to ask, but Generosity and Self-Discipline will be my words for 2018. Pray for me as I seek renewal of my mind and spirit.