It’s January. Time for hitting the gym, cleaning up our diet, getting finances squared away, wrapping up the to-do list, catching up with friends, and cracking open the new devotional. Or not.
I’ve resolved not to make New Year’s resolutions. Years ago, the idea offended me. Why would we wait until January to take account of how we should be living the rest of the year? Daily, I should be considering and prioritizing how I spend my time and energies. Not annually – daily.
But a less-dogmatic, more-tired version of my younger self is beginning to see the wisdom in an annual exam. Right alongside birthdays and anniversaries, each new year presents an opportunity to pause, reflect, and readjust. January marks both an ending and a fresh start. A fresh start that is pregnant with possibility.
So we dare to dream and put words to our hopes. We may share them with a friend over coffee or scribble them on paper. Professionally, I’ve done enough process management work to know the pitfalls intrinsic to multiple lists of lofty goals. Even if I’m able to rearrange life to work toward said goals, it will only be for a short, exhausting period of time. The habits and realities of life can’t change on a dime (or a flip of the calendar page). Despite best intentions, the process simply isn’t sustainable. I’m doomed before I get started.
So rather than snub the fresh start that a new year can bring, I’ve come to embrace the hope that it offers. Rather than making a list, I choose a word.
A list overwhelms – a word focuses.
A list taunts probable failure – a word doesn’t judge.
A list becomes a stumbling block – a word gives direction.
I never know what word will surface, but I usually find that it’s been simmering in my soul for quite some time.
An entry from my journal a few weeks ago:
“This Advent season feels different. Though life is full, I feel a space of want. It’s the gap between what I long for and what actually is. There was a time when I thought that my ‘want’ was for the magic of childhood. Of a fluttering heart on Christmas Eve that couldn’t be quieted in order to bring sleep. Of anticipation so great that it permeated the environment and seeped into every carol sung, present selected, and cookie baked.
I’m beginning to see that at its very heart – my desires are not childish at all – they are only misplaced. My heart was built for anticipation, but I must make room. The clutter is too great. It may take many forms, such as resentment, anxiety, unforgiveness, jealousy, discontent, pridefulness, and busyness. Like stacks of paper being moved from one counter to another, I identify, shuffle, and file my clutter. But I can’t seem to remove it. It changes form, but it still takes up space, blocking my view from seeing clearly the good things I’ve been given. It stifles my creativity, my appreciation, my ability to give to others. If the ‘want’ in my heart is to be satisfied, room must be made. Decluttering is necessary. Yet the mess is too great and I’m helpless. I need Someone to expose the mess, bit by bit, and then clean it out.”
I yearn for more. But I don’t have space.
We long for sweeping change in our lives. Healed relationships, strong healthy bodies, and relief from struggle. I want to be more self-disciplined, more generous, and a better steward of the gifts with which I’ve been entrusted.
It’s a strange paradox. When it comes to change, I’m both ultimately responsible and completely dependent. I can’t produce the fruit, but I can prepare the soil. Change happens gradually – bit by almost undetectable, seemingly insignificant bit.
~ A garden is created one square inch at a time.
~ A symphony, one note at a time.
~ Each masterpiece of art, one brush stroke at a time.
~ Every great story, one word at a time.
My word for 2014 is “declutter.” What’s yours?
We are hosting an upcoming marriage weekend February 21-22, 2014 that may
be of interest to you. Please click here to find out more.
Julie Silander received her BS degree in Business Administration from Furman University, and she held a variety of roles in the banking industry before becoming a full-time mom. Julie and David have five children, and they have been friends of Barnabas for close to twenty years. Most recently, Julie has been intimately involved in the strategic planning for The Barnabas Center in preparation for the next phase of the ministry. She spends the bulk of her days schooling their three youngest children. She also writes regularly at www.greenertrees.net and is a contributor to Story Warren.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Charlotte Office: 704.365.4545
Triad Office: 336.521.7641