I’ve always been idealistic when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. As a young teen my diaries were filled with ideas on how to better improve myself. These grandiose plans were soon followed by a painful sense of guilt as the year wore on, because I could never seem to reach my own expectations. By the time Auld Lang Syne rolled around again, I was still behind in the goals I wanted to reach, the parts of myself I desperately needed to change.
By this logic, I should have never changed as a person at all. But I did, because unbeknownst to me, One who knew better was washing out other imperfections, chiseling other corners, and polishing other facets.
It’s taken me a long time to trust Him for that.
Guilt is a horrible motivator. Because of guilt I’ve done good deeds without love, I’ve followed the rules without conviction, and I’ve accommodated others without generosity. Guilt does not make me a better writer, a better Christian, a better person. It makes me desperately try to prove that I can swim on my own until I drown myself.
Guilt is a lot of who I am, for different reasons. Guilt plugs the holes in my bones. Removing it bit by bit will leave me a little fragile, for a time, until the empty spaces are filled with something stronger.
I read a post about resolutions this week, and the writer Lily Dunn offered a unique look at them. She writes that instead of a list of goals to accomplish for the new year, she tries to encapsulate all of her goals in one word, and to go after that concept throughout the year. It sounds complicated, but instead it’s incredibly simple. You choose a word to describe what you’d like to emerge more as by the end of the year. For her, 2016 will be about “mindfulness”.
I love this idea, because it leaves guilt out of the equation. It simply asks you to improve. It echoes the homeschooler’s mantra: “did you make progress?”
So this year, my one-word resolution is “joy”. More specifically, to “take joy”. God never promises us happiness, but He does promise, and even commands, joy. In the past few months I’ve been astounded in the ways, both enormous and minuscule, that He keeps that promise and provides for that command.
So although as a writer, I am setting practical (and probably futile) goals for the year, I am ultimately making three soft, gentle resolutions to grow in joy:
Engage with the community both online and in person,
Write from the heart whether it’s pretty or not, and
To Take Joy in every moment as the ultimate story unfolds.
Prayerfully as I grow in joy, the other imperfections, corners, and facets will be more easily taken care of.
I’ll leave that to the One who knows what He’s doing.
take a look at Lily Dunn’s beautiful post and tell me your resolutions (whether its one word or more) below! I wish a blessed and joyful new year – minus 11 days – for you all.