Image: Wikimedia Commons
It’s the time of year that we try again.
Full of unfounded optimism, we pick ourselves up and dust off last years failures ready to give it another go: sticking with the diet, doing the exercise, kicking the habit, finding the relationship, taking up the hobby, getting out of the rut, following the dream.
I’ve ‘successfully’ given up biting my nails twice now, and I’m on to round three. Having discovered that I am easily trainable with a simple star chart, a bit of praise, and the promise of occasional rewards, it just takes a new lease of motivation and someone willing to humour me (thanks, Tom) for me to give up again – and hope that this time it lasts beyond a few months.
I’ll probably stick with this method for those habits I need to work on, like going to bed earlier and drinking more water. But I can’t do them all in January.
Instead, I’m thinking a bit more fundamentally for my New Years Resolutions. With apologies to those who’ve taught me project management, campaigning and fundraising skills – these are not SMART targets. Vague rather than specific, open-ended rather than measurable, distant rather than attainable, ideals rather than realistic, and ongoing rather than time-bound. Forgive me.
I hope the specifics will click in to place over time. But for now, the point is about redressing the balance. Where, over the past months, life has got chaotic, crowded and confusing, I want to restore a bit of calm. Where it’s got greedy, indulgent and unsustainable, I want to restore a bit of simplicity. Where it’s got self-serving, self-involved and self-promoting, I want to restore a bit of generosity.
Here’s the plan for 2015:
- I want to slow down – to be slower to share my every feeling and thought, slower to broadcast to the world or my contact list, slower to inform yet another person what happened last night, slower to share private conversations.
- I want to hold on – to hold my thoughts as my own and honour my feelings as precious, to take responsibility for what’s mine to hold without watering it down and tossing it around. I want to hold what other people trust me with carefully and with reverence, trusting I have the resources to keep that knowledge safe.
- I want to be content – content with intimacy where I have it, content to keep it there and not share. I want to be content where there’s less intimacy, where that belongs to someone else, where friendships stay at a safe distance. Content to occupy a different space. I want to be content whether I’m invited or not, thought of or not, special or not.
- I want to learn to enjoy – to enjoy my own company, enjoy space and time alone, enjoy room to breathe, enjoy a night off, a night in, time to read, time to pray. To see them as a gift to be appreciated, not a gap to be feared and filled.
- I want to depend less – on people’s time, on people’s company, on people’s attention, on people’s affection, on people’s interest, on people’s opinions, on people’s approval.
- I want to lean more – on the unconditionals, on the love of God, and the love of my family, on the strength I know I have somewhere, on the potential I trust I’ve been given.
- In some ways, I want to become less – less glued to my phone, less worried about mind-games, less concerned about the future, less angry at myself, less scared of failing, less selfish with my time, less paralysed by apathy, less overwhelmed by inability.
- But in other ways, I want to become more – more present in the moment, more spontaneous in giving, more compassionate and kind, more trustworthy and reliable, more dedicated to the things I love, more invested in the people I love.
And I want to make sure I know that I am more than my stories, more than the mess, more than my history, more than a flirt, more than that gossip, more than a concern, more than Facebook likes, retweets and blog stats.
And I want to make sure I know that other people are more than a challenge, more than a project, more than characters in my story, more important than I value them as, more deep than I can know, more afraid than I can see, more broken than I can fix, more loved than I can offer.
And I want to make sure I know that I don’t always need to know. I don’t always need to be involved. I don’t need to be afraid of being in the dark. I can trust I won’t be abandoned, trust that I am loved, trust that it will be okay, trust that I don’t need to panic. Trust in God’s love, trust in God’s word, trust in God’s son, trust in God’s spirit, trust in God’s family, trust in God’s plans, trust in God’s strength, trust in God’s grace.
That’s the bit that will make all the difference really. None of the rest will happen if I don’t spend the year trusting my God who has sustained me this far. And none of the rest will mean anything if it doesn’t help me to love God better, love other people better, and love myself better. It’s the hopeful possibility of love that keeps us moving forward, despite the rest.
So here’s to the progress and the pain that will come this year, the milestones and mistakes, the happiness and the hangovers. Here’s to a little more calm, simplicity and generosity among the whirlwind that is being a 20-something in London.
Now to God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to God’s power that is at work within us, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Happy New Year!