2017. The pages of a new year are blank. What will your new year look like?
We make plans, we break them. We start out with lofty goals, only to find we’ve gone off track a little less than a month later. I’ve fallen prey to this as well. Here are some areas that I want to revolutionize in my life but have yet to figure out a concrete plan:
1.) Spiritual Health. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. I want to memorize Scripture. I want to be transformed.
I often ask myself about what aspects of my faith are truly setting me apart from atheists and other faith holders. Christianity is a revolutionary religion. How has it made me different? Am I truly operating as a Christ follower or am I simply acting out of American idealism; the roots of a Judaeo-Christian foundation, i.e. have I internalized it or am I simply a product of this culture?
I have a great privilege to walk around with Scriptures and knowledge of church history. Some of my fellow Christians aren’t as fortunate. They are locked in prisons and beaten. Their only source of comfort is recalling the verses they have imprinted on their hearts. Fewer things are as beautiful as witnessing an individual meditating on Scriptures out loud and watching their actions follow suit. I want that. Transformation begins with transition, inclining yourself to intentional worship and relationship with God and subsequently, fellow humans.
2.) Relational Health. I don’t want to be so selfish. I want to be intentional, check in on friends who have confessed struggles or are actually wanting my friendship, rather than dwelling on missed opportunities, indifferent relationships, or superficial connections that often transpire over the internet with greater occurrence than in reality. I want to notice the poor and oppressed. I want to start sentences without I. (Failing already, but not giving up the goal to do better.) Friends have confessed depression. There are friends struggling with infertility. I began this blog as a means to encourage infertile women and talk about my journey.
Oh how I have deviated greatly from that aim. Frankly, I want to move past that. It is an event that occurred in my past and has greatly impacted me, but I have accepted what has happened and I have two lovely girls. I don’t want to miss their growth and life because I’m continuing to focus on what I didn’t get or have rather than the treasures God has sought to bless me with, even those he still withholds.
As such, I’m struggling with what I will write. How will my voice be separate from others while still maintaining a perspective that is other-centered rather than on myself? Blogging is therapeutic for me, but how much am I helping my fellow travelers, people living out general life. What relationships have I let falter because they don’t seemingly appear to benefit me? Oh how vain that sounds! How have I been more inward focused rather than Kingdom focused? How much has social media distorted the cries of the masses around me? How have I been deaf, blind, and mute to the injustices occurring in my backyard because I’ve been preoccupied with narcissism? Is my blogging or time on Facebook really narcissistic? Can I pursue it in a godly manner?
Let your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. If I’m earnest in that plea, then it begins with humanity. I make up part of that population. My life is important because he sought it to be part of his plan. I need to stop living in guilt and selfish gain. He put me here for a reason and it is time I start seeking that purpose so that his message resounds more than my weak input. May my story be meek and in it, his voice seek greater masses. In turn, we’ll witness a revival of individuals who are truly God focused and as such, have a heart for their neighbors, even those radically different than themselves. However, we can’t change others. We can change ourselves and how we influence those around us.
3.) Body Health. I know part of this entails what I eat. Now, I’m less concerned with calorie counting because I can tell you it doesn’t work. I grew up around dieting. My mom has been a Weight Watchers member for 30 years. To an outsider, it seems like a cult religion. I understand you need accountability. When you attend weekly meetings and talk about it constantly, I feel like it becomes a religion, a weight loss idol. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We often don’t talk about how you can actually be fat and healthy. Muscle weighs more. The scale is often misleading.
I’m “skinny” but my nutrition is decrepit. I don’t want to talk about ascetics around my children, at least not as it pertains to outward beauty. Outward appearance and acceptance is relative to cultural mores and preferences. I want them to appreciate their looks, and more importantly others. It isn’t necessarily the fault of speech I heard growing up, but I often thought fat equaled ugly. Yet some obese individuals I know now have the most compassionate souls and there are some wicked rail (bony) folks. I would have missed out on incredible friendships if I didn’t have an overhaul on my thought processes.
Models are often airbrushed. Our “imperfections” often lend to gained strength. I always thought my height was a disadvantage until I learned that I could climb without thought, bend down more readily, and am generally disposed to vocal strength and thought (Napoleon complex, perhaps). My husband finds my looks captivating. Other men do not. Seriously, how we look on the outside is truly not important. At least, we shouldn’t be concerned about how we look to anyone but God and ourselves. If dressing a particular way makes you feel empowered, if exercise and eating certain foods makes you feel alert and alive, and if you feel that it is pleasing to God (because I inevitably view all of life through the lens of my Christian faith and I want to), then pursue those goals and act on them. I need this as much for myself as I am encouraging others to do the same.
4.) Financial Health. Intentional budgeting. My purchases reflect where my heart is, my real pursuits in this life. While I want to give it all to the church, I know that I have bills too. It hurt to cut back on our contribution to the church because I know it is a command, but I noticed that we were giving so much (due to a miscalculation on a percentage of our salaries) that it was impacting our ability to pay other bills which we need to survive. You really can’t live on a dollar a day here. I don’t know, maybe I could if I really tried, but I don’t think you really can.
Part of this pursuit requires education. My husband started his own business. I want to be his biggest cheerleader. Lately, I haven’t encouraged him as much as I’ve needed too. The duress of income has me nagging more than I’d like. He is a man with great integrity. He is learning how to quote and manage time. I need to give him the grace to learn that, even if it entails repeated failures that I see as the same mistake, but in actuality are slightly different. Rather than striking him emotionally for his contributions, I need to analyze how I can contribute better.
I need to stop elevating myself and touting how much I do. Yes, I do a significant amount for my family and often don’t feel gratitude for what I do, but how selfish is that? If I feel there is something wrong, I can’t change people around me. I can change myself. If I feel our budget is off, I can ask how I’m causing issues. How can I save and impact my family’s financial survival? It is time I take responsibility rather than placing blame or seeking entitlement.
I can take classes to help educate myself on business management to encourage my husband. I can coupon and ask friends to educate me on such matters so I spend less on retail. I can take classes on gardening and actually start one so we can save money on our food bills. I can look at what my skill-sets are (and stop saying I don’t have any because I’m mediocre in everything but don’t excel in anything) and try to market those skills to sell my innovations. If I love writing, how can I do so to honor God while providing for my family financially? Can I do this in a righteous manner and if so, how might I do so?
Thus, the biggest dilemma I’m encountering is how I will go forward with blogging. If I want this to be a success (read: having my heart more devoted to Christ and I pray, my audience asking and seeking him more readily too), what niche do I need to fall into? How will I revitalize a blog I feel is falling flat (themes, content, etc.)? If I don’t think constantly writing about infertility is beneficial anymore, then what do I write about? Should I still be writing about infertility and am I being selfish if I don’t?
What do people need help with? How can I help through the words I type? (If I have managed to engage my audience long enough for them to reach this paragraph. Oh how I need to be more concise. (That is something I can definitely learn from my husband.)) How will I glorify God with my writing? My writing needs to be about glorifying him first and foremost. Eternal perspective is important. Life here is a mere breath when compared to eternity. How will a few stutters this side of heaven impact the greater story, his message?
The answer is more pressing than I care to confess. As I embark into the next decade, how will I seek his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and pursue endeavors to make that reign? How much of it is my responsibility versus God’s sovereignty? This is no easy theological matter. My soul contemplates and is walking away feeling confused, battered, and lost. Holding onto faith, I wonder just how I might use this venue for him and unsure what that looks like. As such, I’ll just do SOMETHING. I just don’t know what and can we ever be really sure? Ideas would be helpful. God uses others to guide us at times just as he can use us to reach multitudes.
Perhaps I should have made that the title because that is the ever-looming question.