Every year since the “ripe old age” of ELEVEN, I’ve made New Year’s Resolutions. (That’s 25 years, folks!)
My very first resolutions?
- Be nice to my siblings.
- Try to be good no matter what.
- Always keep a smile.
- Study hard.
- Try to get good grades.
- Try to be nice to everyone.
- Be confident.
- Always exercise.
- Write in diary every night.
- Always read Bible anytime.
I think I failed at most of those.
And it seems as though, as I’ve gotten older, my goals have, naturally, changed significantly. And they’ve also expanded.
For many years, I’ve sought out ways in which I can improve for the coming year. Every year, I want to lose weight, drink more water, exercise more. Every year, I want to spend more time with my family. Every year, I want to deepen my relationship with Christ. All good things.
I’ve tried one big list. I’ve tried breaking it down into different areas of my life (spirit, emotions, body, mind, marriage, kids, other relationships, finances, home, and career) and breaking those goals into chunks.
All of these things I’ve done with the intention of “getting my priorities straight” and becoming a better and more well-rounded and spiritual person, I suppose.
Yes, all good things.
This year, I really wanted to prioritize well, but what I found was that the “tyranny of the urgent” was rampant in my life, and things fell to the back burner—primarily the most important things (and people) in my life.
Things I am proud of doing this year (in no particular order):
- Continued to journal daily and read a daily devotional.
- Enrolled my thirteen-year old in oil painting classes.
- Canceled my fifteen-year old’s band trip to Disney at the nudge of the Holy Spirit. (Long story to go with this one.)
- Spent a weekend alone with each one of my younger daughters.
- Enrolled my fifteen-year old in a residential treatment program for troubled teens.
- Dropped off my stepdaughter at her summer internship in Chicago, which gave us the opportunity to visit a work friend and some family I hadn’t seen in 5-10 years.
- Took a silent retreat/quiet day.
- Took our family photos myself.
- Hosted our 11th annual Christmas party.
- Had my gastric sleeve revised to gastric bypass.
How many of those things were on my “list” at the beginning of the year? THREE.
Things I actually did this year that aren’t bad in and of themselves but that took precedence in my life:
- Attended 90+ appointments/medical procedures between myself and two of our kids.
- Flew to North Carolina for work.
- Executed a trade show in Las Vegas for work.
- Worked a lot of extra hours to compensate for staffing changes and increasing business needs.
- Attended nearly 35 weeks of parenting class and counseling sessions with the program my daughter is in, which requires a variety of types of “homework” most weeks.
And things I am disappointed I dropped:
- Evaluate commitments.
- Do something for yourself once a month.
- Work out in some manner twice a week.
- Complete the 90-day AIP diet. (It was actually really helpful when I tried it for even just 30 days.)
- Produce one work of art each quarter.
- Continue weekly marriage devotions.
- Do the Adventure Challenge for Couples.
- Bi-weekly date nights with my husband. (Lots of things shifted, and we need to find a new rhythm.)
- Go away overnight together at least once.
- Have a “family day.”
- Spend at least two hours a month with each child.
- Volunteer as a family at least once OR do something as a family for someone else.
- Prepare a book proposal.
- Blog 1 time per month.
- Redesign MTM website.
Notice that the most important things (relationships, health, and my passion for my writing ministry) are what dropped.
I truly want 2023 to be different.
Every year, people exclaim “THIS IS GOING TO BE MY YEAR!” We’ll set our goals again and start off our long distance run at a sprint only to get worn out and beat down before March 31st. But we’ll do it again next year. And the next year. And the next. Constantly running faster and faster on this hamster wheel culture says is necessary to feel valued only to drive ourselves into the ground feeling even more worthless and discouraged.
And for what?
This year, not only have I been pondering the word “rejoice” (my word for 2022), but also “Sabbath” has been pressed upon me. Sabbath has been lost to me for quite some time—years probably. My grandparents practiced it dutifully as I grew up, but I always saw it as a set of rules—things I couldn’t do—and forced naptime (although now that sounds glorious to me!). But after going through Practicing the Way’s Sabbath practice through a Bible study and talking through Sabbath during a practice series at church as well as reading Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender, I understand how essential it is to observe it not as a legalistic idea and another rule to follow but as a practice of restoration and renewal and pursuit of God.
Thankfully, my obligations have shifted so that I no longer only get two hours of “Sabbath” on a Monday evening after work, but I now am available to make Sunday a full Sabbath. I truly hope to experience true Sabbath in 2023.
In pondering all these things—the goals, the words, the priorities, Sabbath rest…I wondered to myself:
What if I just make an unresolution?
Of course, an “unresolution” is, itself, a resolution.
But what if instead of writing out this extensive list of goals and things I want to achieve, I truly allow the Spirit to lead? I stop trying to strive after the wind, as Solomon says (Ecc. 4:6). And instead, I let go.
I want to cut things out. Right now, my schedule doesn’t show much flexibility for removing commitments, but I’m hoping that, later in the year, our obligations will decrease. I am hopeful that we can buckle down and cut back our expenditures so that we may have more financial freedom down the road. And even though things pop up (like having to replace our oil tank right now), I desire not to try to control the situation—as my habit is to sit down for hours to figure out how to make it work myself—but to allow God space to work in our lives.
Because, I’ve realized, I’ve put God in a box. I see that I’ve fell prey to the belief that He either cannot (scarcity mentality) or will not (abandonment) provide for me. Or that I am so proud that I think I can handle it better than He can. Ouch.
But if I cut back on my overachieving and perfectionistic tendencies, I wonder how many less health issues I would have? (And thus less appointments?) I wonder how much less harried and hurried I would feel? I wonder how much time I could finally dedicate to my family and friends so that they feel loved by me and I by them? I wonder if I would feel more secure in myself if I would just stop setting myself to fall?
This does not mean I become lazy and lax, allowing my house, home, and career fall into shambles. Instead, it is a healthy balance of doing what is needed to the best of my ability (with God’s help!) without overextending myself. It is not a stop caring attitude. Instead, it is a conscious effort (for lack of a better word) to stop trying to be perfect. And it’s a more caring attitude toward what is healthy and right—as no one gets the best of me when I am burned out.
So for the first time in 25 years, I “resolve to unresolve.” Will I desire to continue some things and start others? Yes. But I also desire to lessen some things and quit others entirely. I “unresolve” to “chase after the wind” and grasp at things that are futile. But what I will not do is hold myself accountable to “legalistic” self-imposed expectations. So here’s to “unresolutions.” Might you consider joining me?