I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions. I’d guess that it’s probably for a lot of reasons. For example, I haven’t been a student in more years than my fingers and toes combined, but I still see the start of a school year as my “new year.” It’s comfy, like the old hoodies that get pulled out each fall. Also, I stick with said resolutions for about as long as everyone else, and so I’ve decided that I don’t really love disappointing myself year after year. Plus, there’s all that “new year – new YOU” talk. And, honestly, the older I get the more I kind of like me. To say I need a new me would imply that the old me just isn’t good enough. And, well, I am. I mean, sure, I’m not always confident about my body or my messy house. But, I live in both and I’m learning that there’s value in others seeing that truth. The truth that I live here. So, yeah, there’s some dishes in the sink or some wrinkles on my forehead, but they belong there.
Which brings me to the middle of January. Yes, the middle. Not January 1. Not even the last days of December. Not the planning of the New Year’s resolutions or the deciding who the new me is going to be. Those days have passed. They’ve passed without fanfare and secretly snuck by without anyone really even asking how I can make me better. But, I’m not just coasting by and living life willy nilly here. I do have dreams, and goals, and aspirations. I want to be new everyday. I want to change and grow and learn and be just a little bit better this year than last. I want next year’s me to be able to tell this year’s me that everything is going to be ok and that I knew that all along. So, what do I do? How do I confront each new year anyway?
Last year I started by asking myself what I wanted. Like, what’s a good intention for me? What’s my desire for this next year? Who do I want to be? Not the fancy, new me that says old me is lame, but how can I be just a little bit better each day? I decided, that when all else fades away, I just want to spend more time with Jesus and learn about how the church should be. That’s it. What I wanted for last year was to get to know Jesus and His church. I felt like if I could do that, if I could spend more time with Him, everything else would be ok. So, I made a plan. I determined to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and Acts every month. And, I did. Well, mostly. Sometimes it took a little more than a month. And, here at the end, my tardiness compacted a bit. Which is what brings me to mid January. I am just finishing up my reading. So what if it took me 15 extra days. Did I do it? Yes. Was it helpful? Yes. Do I know Jesus and understand the church a little more? Yes. In fact, I learned so much.
I realized a few things through being intentional this year. I learned that if it was an intention then the whole idea is not to “crush” anything but to be something. Be someone. Understand more. And, I did. I am. I have. I also realized that my specific intention of spending more time with Jesus allowed me to memorize more than I ever imagined possible. I didn’t once this year set out to memorize even one passage in the gospels, but it happened naturally. Three of the four gospels tell roughly the same stories and as I read through each month I realized that I was memorizing if not exact words, at least concept by concept. I would actually surprise myself at times. I also learned that I can carry the old me into the new year and not change who I am but make who I am more teachable, more moldable, more able to grow and become and flourish. We are always changing, growing, becoming, I don’t doubt or negate that.
What I do know, though, is that we are all made in the image of God. We are important and seen and known and loved. If not by those around us, by the One who created us. He sees you. The old you, the new you, the today you, the tomorrow you. If setting goals and resolutions can form you into who you want to be, that’s great. But, don’t beat yourself up about not losing the weight or getting into the gym only once this week. If you set an intention to be healthy and have gone to the gym once, isn’t that better than no times at all? If you intend to spend more time reading, but haven’t finished a book yet this month, is it really that big of a deal? Did you read some? Think about who you intend to be in the next year. How can you get there? Do that. Don’t get caught up this year in doing, but in being.
May you be just the person that you intend to be this year and in the years to come.