Have you made your resolutions yet? Research from the University of Scranton reveals that 45% of us make resolutions, but only 8% of us achieve those New Year’s goals.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the 45% that makes New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, I don’t always make it to the 8% that succeeds in keeping them!
The way I see it, I have two choices as I step into 2015:
- I can look back at all of those resolutions I made and didn’t keep, and then beat myself up for not following through on them.
- I can read back through my journals and look for all those places God met me in 2014, and acknowledge all the seeds He sowed into my life that are bearing fruit today.
It’s a no-brainer, right?
It may look like a no-brainer, but why do I, and so many of you, continue to opt for choice # 1? Why do we waste precious time and energy scolding ourselves for everything we didn’t do in 2014—the weight we didn’t lose. The gym membership we didn’t take advantage of. The weekly menu we were going to make and stick to for healthy dinners 5 nights out of 7. The way we were going to see the glass half full instead of half empty; schedule a date night with our spouse once a week; be a better mom, dad, daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, committee member…you name it!
As parents of kids with disabilities, we can’t afford this time-wasting practice of looking back at everything we didn’t do right. It’s a trick of the enemy, and it sucks us down into the mud. It does nothing to build us up and encourage us, when we so desperately need encouragement in the complicated and often difficult circumstances of our day-to-day lives with special needs.
How do we walk into the New Year with the dried mud of last year dragging us down like a pair of cement shoes?
I’ve spent this past week reading through my 2014 journals. I try to do this every year, and, as always, I’m so thankful I took the time. This Scripture, captured in my journal last spring, grabs me again today:
Forget about what happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? (Isaiah 43:18-21 The Message)
Okay, Kathy, I asked myself. What happens when you put your attention on what God is doing in your life right now, instead of what happened yesterday (or last year)? What happens when you focus on the one good thing you’re doing for yourself today? This tangerine, for instance, that you chose instead of a candy bar as you sat down to write this blog post. Or that meeting with your spiritual director you set up for this afternoon? What happens when you allow yourself to soak in the light of the delicious smile your son, Joel, who is just coming out of a depression, beamed at you from the backseat this morning? What happens if, instead of beating yourself up about not getting the house cleaned since Christmas, you pause from writing to bask in the sight of dust motes dancing as light streams through the window?
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. God is constantly creating something new! It’s so hard to remember this in winter, when all the twinkly lights have been taken down, it’s yucky outside and the world is curtained in drab shades of brown or grey (at least in Ohio, where I live!). God is constantly sowing new seeds, and as these seeds grow their roots intertwine with our lives and we become fertile and green. If we take time to water them by choosing to take time to reflect on God’s presence in our everyday life, these seeds will bear fruit. We might even lose a few pounds as we treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit by eating healthier foods!
Sometimes I get pot-bound at this time of year. The lack of sunlight brings me down, and I seem to need a good shake and transplanting. I get that through practicing lectio divina with friends; through a prayer massage from my gifted massage-therapist-friend, Ruthie; through thirty minutes of stretching in the warm water pool at the Rec Center (with a good soak in the hot tub afterwards!), and yes, even through suffering.
As I read through my journals from last year, I remember how God met me, time after time, in the middle of suffering—in my son’s depression, in my diagnosis of cancer and subsequent surgery and treatment, in the loss of one of my best friends as she moved overseas. He met me through Scripture, through dreams, through beauty in nature, through prayer groups, through worship, through people. He spoke to me again and again. If I hadn’t written it down, I wouldn’t have remembered half of it.
And still God keeps sowing seeds. I spent an hour this afternoon unpacking a dream with my spiritual director. A dream so layered with meaning that it will keep me busy for weeks! I can’t begin to imagine what seeds are being sown right this very moment that will take my life in a whole new direction!
When I consider this seed-sowing that God is continually doing in my life, losing that 20 lbs. doesn’t seem quite as important. Eating that tangerine instead of a Snicker’s bar does. Getting out with friends for a glass of wine doesn’t seem nearly as important as making it to that prayer group I tend to skip when I’m tired. Showing up prepared for my son’s monthly behavioral staffings seems a lot more important than berating myself for not being a “good enough” mom.
Be alert! Be present! God is doing something brand-new! It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
- Looking back at 2014, list 3 times (places, experiences, relationships) that you felt most alive with God.
2. What seeds did God sow into your life last year that are bearing fruit today?
3. Look out the window. What is God inviting you to, right this very moment?
I am so excited to share that my book, The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities is the recipient of a Silver Medal in the 2015 Illumination Book Awards: Spirituality category, through the Independent Publisher Book Awards. From IP’s website: “The Illumination Awards are intended to celebrate and recognize the exemplary books produced by the ever-growing Christian branch of publishing and bookselling. A vast array of new titles is released from this thriving sector each year, bringing inspiration and answers to millions of readers exploring their faith.