Every year, I write New Year’s Resolutions.
2011‘s goals were about being genuine to myself, eliminating things that I hold on to because I cared so much what other people thought, and I read 65 books that year!
2012‘s goals were about slowing down and staying grounded in the midst of processing the loss of a close friend, Jenna, in 2011.
2013‘s goals were about rebuilding my foundation, being alone and facing the world with a new perspective.
2014‘s goals were about being a certain kind of person, they one I wanted to be, and realized with differing levels of success and commitment.
2014 brought around quite a bit of unexpected refining. I found myself unhappy more consistently than any other time in my life, and the more I tried to shake it off, the more discouraged I became. I fought with disappointments in almost every area of my life, and failed often at keeping those disappointments from weighing down my relationships and interactions with others. As a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, acknowledging this perceived failure is rough. I didn’t even want to write this post. I’ve been avoiding it for weeks, because the lessons I’ve learned this year came at a high cost, not just for me, but for the people closest to me who had to deal with my attitude and failures. I certainly wouldn’t trade this year and its lessons, but I do look back and wished I’d been able to learn them sooner. It’s embarrassing to admit what a challenging year this has been.
Something I say often to others, and am turning toward myself at the start of this new year, is that you have to begin where you actually are. This takes an amount of self-awareness and the humility to acknowledge that I don’t have everything figured out. I need others in my life to help me see what God is doing and to hold the mirror up for me to see my blind spots. It’s vulnerable and frightening for someone who cares as much about control as I do to recognize how intricately my world is wrapped up with the community that surrounds me, the community that God has called us to fully engage with. I want to continue to do that this year, and that means more hard conversations. More forgiving and more asking for forgiveness. More listening and less assuming. More asking deep questions and more thinking to give honest answers. More opportunities to say yes to the messiness of relationships and caring about other people who are as broken and imperfect as me.
I want to do better at everything in 2015, but I don’t want to make any resolutions that inspire shame in me in the midst of these discouragements. So, for now, I will take a page from Shauna Niequist and aspire simply to be present in the midst of uncertainty and challenge, rather than aiming for perfection and being constantly disappointed. I want to be present to myself and to others, and engage in the messes of life without holding so tightly to my unrealistic expectations. And above all else, I trust God to be present to me, the way He continuously has been, and that I would be made stronger by His strength in my weakness.