Here we are again. The calendar has marched on to the start of a new year. 2015 was immensely busy for us; so much so that it really feels like we just celebrated the end of 2014. Like water under a bridge, the days slid past us. I’m acutely aware that, even as I type this, the moments of this infant year are meandering under that bridge. We’ll blink, and it will be time yet again for costumes and turkey and snowmen and presents and noisemakers and another post about another new year.
I suppose this is also a time for making resolutions, though I approach doing so with trepidation. My natural tendency is to dive headlong into things with an over-zealous “can do” attitude — then fizzle out about mid-February. I must combat this, or I’ll ever feel like a failure. (Anyone else struggle with accepting grace in failure? I suspect I’m not alone in this one.) In my thirties, I’ve established (what I feel is) a helpful way to evaluate the year past and resolve to make small adjustments in the coming months. There are two big steps to this process, though the second step is composed of quite a few smaller steps.
- Select a word for the year. Often this is rooted in a Scripture and is tied to something about which the Spirit has convicted me.
- Evaluate what I see as my four main areas for growth: spiritual, physical, intellectual/emotional, and relational. Did I find success in meeting my goals for the ending year? How do I need to tweak these? Or do I need to set entirely new goals? My “word of the year” factors into most of these sectors, to varying degrees.
Typically, I begin this process around Christmas Day. There is much reflection, reading of Scripture, and praying that happens. The goal, of course, is to set goals that grow me in ways that ultimately glorify the Lord. For 2016, the Lord has drawn my attention to Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
My word for 2016: LOVE
During the second half of 2015, I struggled to love — in part, due to challenging emotional circumstances that have surfaced, but mostly because I was a ping-pong ball in the way I sought the Lord. My self-discipline in most things turned drastically downward. I’m taking this fresh year as an opportunity to reset my course, thankful that the Lord drew my attention to my folly and helped to give clarity regarding these new, continued, or tweaked structures for a new year.
daily reading time using a chronological Bible reading plan
daily prayer and journaling time
extended time with the Lord on Saturday
heart-care regarding the aforementioned emotional challenge*
daily rotation of at-home, body weight exercises
strict adherence to a diet that excludes grain, dairy, and sugar**
strict consistency in all treatments
Intellectual / Emotional
create and complete 2016 reading list
complete first draft of novel
limit screen time and remove Facebook from phone
write an encouraging note to a specific person (weekly; not by text)
pray more actively for those in my spheres of contact
*The time spent receiving heart-care will undoubtedly affect my well-being and growth in all four of these areas — an my ability to love those around me.
**If you’re looking for paleo meal and snack ideas, visit my Pinterest board that is dedicated mostly to that end.
I don’t feign that these resolutions will be the answer to all of my self-discipline problems, but I firmly believe that the answer to that issue lies in seeking the Lord more diligently. It has been my experience that being disciplined in that one regard produces the fruit of additional discipline in other areas of life. I also believe that each of these resolutions (yes, even the first draft one!) will grow me in loving my neighbor as myself (and create opportunities for that love to be lived out).
Stay tuned for my 2016 reading list! I had to scale it back a bit from 2015, but I’ve been more intentional in what I chose for the year. Meanwhile, I would LOVE to hear about your resolutions for 2016! How do you want to grow in the coming year?
Soli Deo gloria,