Haaappy New Year! It’s the first day of 2019 and I cannot believe how much life last year brought (literally! 😉 ) We wrapped it up with a snowy adventure and rang in the new with a slow day of reflecting, resting, and enjoying each other!
I have a bittersweet love for the last days on the calendar. They’re a natural time to reflect on the blessings and growth of the past and look toward the future with anticipation, but they can also feel overwhelming. As unknown as the future is, there’s a certain hope of possibility the new year brings and it’s something I want to hold onto as long as possible this time. One way I plan to do this is to boycott New Years’ Resolutions! What?! YES! Let me be clear, I’m not against resolutions. Resolutions are just “a firm decision to do or not to do something” and I’m all about goals and intentionality. We make “resolutions” every day: when we decide to eat a healthy meal and not to indulge, when we decide to prioritize quiet time and not to be sucked in by our phone, when we decide to serve others and love selflessly… I want to be a person of resolve! So why do “New Years’ Resolutions” intimidate me so much? Am I the only one feeling the pressure of unrealistically high expectations for 2019? Don’t get me wrong, I’m believing that God has the best year in store for us yet. I know He will provide for us and I’m excited for the growth ahead. I’m expecting victories, but I’m banking on a few failures too. I’m fairly certain we’ll be met with some challenges and uncomfortable moments, but I know God is good regardless of my circumstances and I believe it when He says His plans for me are good too. (Jeremiah 29) That’s why I woke up this morning, January 1, with confidence and joy. Whether or not it’s the year I’ll finally live up to my December 31st contract – the truth of who I am (and more importantly the truth of who God is) remains.
We don’t know what the new days hold, but we know the One who holds them.
Why does it feel like we have to outdo our past accomplishments to count the next 12 months as a success? Instead of making ourselves promises and hoping not to fail before the end of January, let’s decide that this year we’ll do something when it’s time or not do something when we know it’s enough. Let’s be intentional with the next 365 days by making the little choices every day that add up to the big things. Let’s walk into each week with purpose and a clear sense of identity. Not because we’re going to reinvent ourselves as a new and improved version. Because we’ve learned from the past year. We’ve grown stronger and wiser. We’re a little more sensitive and more prepared than ever to face what’s ahead. We don’t know what the new days hold, but we know the One who holds them. And He says He will work them out for good. (Romans8:28) For immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20)
I’ve sworn off waiting to resolve until the “right” date. And I’m over trying to top the triumphs of the past or make up for my previous shortcomings with bigger and better. Instead of a resolutions list, I choose a word for the year.
Here’s why you should too!
You know that feeling at the end of each summer in high school? The way you felt when your tan was fresh, your back to school wardrobe was ready, you were a whole three months older, wiser, more mature, a new person really! 😉 I’ve always been a big fan of starting fresh. Fresh starts are sweet. They’re valuable and important. We have the opportunity for a life of joy, beauty, and belonging because of the fresh start of salvation through Jesus. But the whole “
New year, New me” just kind of rubs me the wrong way. It seems to say, “the past me wasn’t good enough. I’m throwing her out.” New Years resolutions don’t have to be this way, but for some reason it feels like our culture has partnered our goals with a complete one-up-ourselves mentality. Well, the bible is full of people who made a fresh start with God, but it was their pasts that gave their stories power and impact.
God has a long history of repurposing our negative circumstances, choices, and pasts to reveal the hope of a future with Him.
It’s like Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) When we think about Paul, it was his background of persecuting the church that made his testimony of God’s life changing redemption so strong. So maybe the hard stuff of 2018 was really really hard. Maybe 2018 was a year full of hurt and disappointment. I’m not saying it deserves a big hug, but maybe a good-riddance-handshake mixed with a tiny bit of gratitude for the lessons learned and the growth gleaned.
NOW, let’s appreciate how far we’ve come and look ahead with a confidence that God uses all kinds of things to prepare us for what’s in store: for appointments of responsibility and influence. It’s no secret, either, that it’s often our hardest experiences that are most refining. You are more equipped to chase the dreams God’s laid on your heart and be obedient to follow His lead than you’ve ever been before thanks to the past we’re leaving behind! That includes those goals you’re hoping to accomplish this is the year! Not because it’s a wash if you don’t keep them – because you’re ready and good goals are healthy! So what would you love to do this year? What would bring you joy to learn? How is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone? I encourage you to set those goals! But even more than that, I encourage you to claim a word over this year that represents your identity in Christ. One that He might be challenging you to grow into a little. A word to cling to when you need to be reminded of truth. A word that encompasses the goals in your planner and the desires of your heart. A word that you are dedicating yourself to embrace, to wrestle with, to build on, and adopt this year.
Last year was the first time I tried this out for myself. I chose the word boldness on a walk in the last week of December. (I did this when I became a mom too! You can read about that here!) I remember asking God for boldness to live out my faith, to own my identity, to step outside my comfort zone when He asks me, and to take on the new titles the coming months would hold. It was incredible the way I felt him answer that prayer in 2018. I pushed myself to do things that required more boldness and my capacity to be bold increased! As I was prayerful about this word I felt God had put on my heart, I noticed opportunities to exercise more boldness. I realized that the goals I set for myself naturally aligned with this desire for growth in my spirit and identity and I can honestly say that I’m a little more bold today than I was then.
This year I began praying about my word weeks before it came to a close and it felt like God wasn’t quite finished with me here. He started to show me parts of my life that are a little too full of other influences and lies; areas I’m held back from boldness because of fear. A verse kept coming to mind so I leaned into it: “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25) That’s the woman I want to be! A woman whose walk with Jesus is evident. A woman to whom boldness comes naturally because of her strength. A woman who exudes joy because she doesn’t fear the unknown. It’s not always who I am now, but I believe it’s who God has empowered me to be! So I chose the word “fearless.”
I have goals towards becoming this fearless woman from Proverbs. Goals to learn about the things I’m passionate about and to be unashamed to try and be vulnerable in the process – I’d love to learn how to use my camera better and to write and share in this space with excellence! I’ve got goals to welcome a little more uncomfortable in the name of community and without fear of opinion – I’m hoping to host more people inside our home throughout this year in order to build deeper friendships! I’m even joining friends in a goal to read a certain number of new books this year!… If you haven’t caught on yet, some people might call these “goals” “resolutions.” That’s fine! It’s my attitude I’m changing here! My attitude and the motivation of my heart. The goals I’ve listed are so good, but they’re not the end game. My real priority this year is to live a life that embodies a fearless woman of God. If I reach December 2019 and my camera skills have remained mediocre because other things required prioritizing, I’ll learn as I go and keep right on enjoying the hobby just the same. If I don’t invite a certain number of people to my home every month of the year or have to modify my goals over time to best meet my family’s needs, that’s okay! What I resolve not to do anymore is be held back from trying because I’m afraid to fail or blah blah blah.
So in case I haven’t said it enough, I love goals! My 2019 will be filled with them. They don’t have to come with an “out with the old, in with the new” mindset though. Give yourself grace for the things that didn’t go exactly according to plan last year. Celebrate what did (and maybe even the beauty that came from what didn’t.) 5 star rating worthy or not, God isn’t surprised by what 2018 brought, and He was right there in the fun and the messes. Now it’s time look ahead and trust that He’s working in those ups and downs and He’s walking right along side you into the new year!
5 star rating worthy or not, God isn’t surprised by what 2018 brought.
This week I’d encourage you to start your year off with some quiet time. Take a walk like me or work out or cozy up with some coffee… Whatever you need to do to turn it all down and search your heart for the growth God might be waiting for you to join Him in. Pick your own verse and word for 2019! Pray over it through the year, look for ways you can embrace it in the weeks to come, put it up somewhere and claim it over your life! I know God will bless it as you pursue his purpose for your next 365 days!
Thanks for joining me here in 2018. I’m so so grateful for the privilege to share my heart with you and hugely blessed when you share with me. The best is yet to come!