True story: I've never once kept a New Year's Resolution.
Maybe I'm just not so good at picking one?
I already put lots of pressure on myself to meet impossible standards of perfection so when I attempt to select a reasonable resolution I begin to feel panicky.
What if I don't do what I said I would do? Then I'll feel like a failure. Again.
What if I make the resolution too narrow or too broad? Then I'll give up right away. Again.
What if I just choose a word for the year instead of a resolution? Then I'll feel like I boxed myself into just one thing. What if the unexpected events of 2018 have nothing to do with the word I pick? That feels very narrow for me as well.
USA Today reports that the top resolution selected by Americans for 2018 is: "being a better person". What does that look like? How can I measure if I have become a better person or not? How does Jesus view the idea of becoming a better person?
The article suggests that we take a good, long look at ourselves. What are the "good" and "bad" things we have done in 2017 and how can we improve in 2018?
One technique for self-reflection that I feel I can invest in came from a blogger named Anne Bogel.
She poses two manageable questions:
1. What worked for me last year?
2. What didn't?
So here goes. My self-reflection- which is not limited to serious items- but also some more lighthearted thoughts from 2017.
What DID NOT WORK for me in 2017?
1. Saving money to buy a home whilst frequenting the Starbucks drive-through. A Chai latte with just half a shot of espresso is over $4.00 a pop my friends. Whew. I guess that's why Fox News claims that Millennials are putting more dollars towards Starbucks coffee than retirement. I guess it's a good thing I'm too old to really be a Millennial?! Money matters always make resolution lists- so I would like to be more realistic about my spending- and this is one area I can start with.
2. Online Dating: It's possible that online dating doesn't work for me because I don't have a paid membership for any of the sites and I can only peruse the photos and never actually communicate with anyone. I could possibly change this in 2018. Possibly put myself out there and try something new.
3. My lack of church community: I tried out several churches in 2017, but still haven't settled on one. (Perhaps you read my blog post: Defined by Divorce?) Every church has a bulletin insert inviting visitors to fill out a portion and let everyone know who you are. Every single one of them includes little boxes where you check off your marital status: single, married, divorced, widowed. I believe churches are well-intentioned and want to help me find others in my "life stage" but when the first thing I have to tell you about myself is that I'm divorced, well, that really doesn't cause me to rush the Welcome Center and introduce myself. I've used this frustration as a crutch for awhile now, and I am just going to have to realize that my story is who I am and give people a chance to afford grace and love to me in a church setting in which I feel like the odd woman out.
4. Trying to blog for a broader audience: I want to be more purposeful with my 2018 blog content and truly write with divorced or separated women in mind. I received several emails over the last month from women who are going through these tough emotional times and wanted to say that I helped them. Reading my blog helped them feel less alone and more hopeful that God will bring new life through the end of what once was. This is both humbling and intimidating to know that I need to narrow my focus and really support the women God has called me to minister to and love.
What DID WORK for me in 2017?
1. More movies with "unhappy" endings: LaLa Land helped me to realize that I appreciate the acknowledgement that love and life don't always work out perfectly. Before my divorce I was content with the insanely unrealistic Sweet Home Alabama and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I've finally come to appreciate movies that portray the tough parts of life. If you haven't seen 500 Days of Summer yet, check it out and you'll see what I mean.
2. Purposefully spending time doing things I love: This year I blogged more, read more, ate out with friends more, and travelled more than I have in any previous year. I enjoyed an amazing trip to Greece even though I could've stayed home and saved more money to buy a house. I drove to Wisconsin to watch my former first and second grade students graduate from high school. I prioritized things that I may never have a chance to do again. I went to a writing conference in South Carolina called She Speaks with more than 1,000 writing women who shared their hearts with me and encouraged me to tell my story. I wrote from my heart and I tried to obey God's plans for me in a more purposeful way. I was even posted a guest blog (Rest In
3. I spent lots of time saying good-bye: This is never a good thing, but the positive was that I could put many of these losses into perspective. I said good-bye to the Palace of Auburn Hills when I went for one last Detroit Pistons game. It was a humorous good-bye to the Pontiac Silver Dome as crews failed to blow it up the first time. Good-bye to our blue '57 Chevy. Good-bye to the parts of my grandma's brain eaten up by Alzheimer's. That one isn't so easy to swallow, but the rest were relatively positive experiences in which I replayed fond memories and was thankful for those places and things.
4. I spent lots of time reading good memoir and Christian living books: The top 5 include...
When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent
Undone by Michelle Cushatt
Still Waiting: Hope For When God Doesn't Give You What You Want by Ann Swindell
It's Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Choose by Melanie Dale
Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering by Wetherell & Walton
When I look ahead to 2018, I have no idea what is going to happen. Hurts will come. Joys too. But if I can reflect on where I've been and where I want to go, I say that's a good start.
Cheers to realizing which things aren't working in our lives and adjusting them.
Cheers to celebrating the great things that we have intentionally lived out in 2017.
And all of this with Jesus at our center- leading and guiding, loving and growing us. Happy New Year friends, and let us look to 2018 with fresh optimism knowing that Jesus is already right there with us.
Colossians 2:6-7- Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
My Top Blog Posts of 2017- Thanks for Reading This Year!
How to Respond to Lysa Terkeurst's Divorce- over 4,000 views!
5 Things You Should Know About My Divorce- nearly 600 views
The One Thing I'm Afraid of This Christmas- nearly 400 views
A Divine Discovery: Tending the Spaces God Gives You- over 350 views
Does Jesus Understand My Needs? - nearly 300 views
That Time I Realized I Was an Immature Christian- Nearly 250 views
Check out these resources:
Ann Bogel's Article: What Worked for me in 2017
Emily P. Freeman: 3 Gentle Ways to Review Your Life in the New Year