Never come to a meeting with a blank page. You may leave with a completely different page, but it’s always better to start with something. My dad’s nuggets of wisdom are both many and multi-functional. 2016 is approaching and a blank page in my house would quickly fill with the opinions of 7 others on how to spend our days. I can guarantee it would not include math facts, vegetables, or cleaning of any kind.
Traditionally the turn of the New Year is a time for refection and new resolve. And traditions are good things. We forgetful humans need habits and rhythms if we are to keep order. But making the resolutions is the easy part. Listing my intentions to swear off sugar, get up at 5am every morning, and exercise for 30 minutes a day, all from a cozy armchair on a quiet afternoon with a hot cocoa, colored pens, and graph paper is rather idyllic. Carrying out said intentions is another story.
I’m not trying to kill anyone’s optimism here. Go ahead and dream big, shoot for the stars, try to fly higher than an eagle, choose your own sentiment. Just don’t forget they’re called resolutions. They are going to require resolve, tenacity, grit. This year I resolve to use a healthy dose of sober-minded realism. While filling out my resolutions page, I will:
- Be particular. Personality, season of life, unforeseen circumstances all play a role in what any one us can reasonably accomplish in a given period of time. There are many good things for many different people to do at many times. If I try to do them all, I’ll likely do none. I resolve to set goals in accordance with the unique arrangement of gifts and circumstances the Lord has put me in right now.
- Count the cost. We all have budgets of some kind, resources that we must steward. Time is finite (well sort of, it is also infinitely divisible and endless in a sense, but that’s not for now). I may want to run a marathon this year (I don’t), but I would have to decide if the time and energy required fit into my budget. I resolve to keep a watchful eye on the account of my resources.
- Make the methods flex to the principles. Methods are not ends in themselves. It can be easy to fixate on efficiency or excellence to the point that it no longer serves the point of the system. Take laundry for example. What’s the principle? People need clean clothes in a predictable location. Methods may vary. I’ve chosen in my time account, that spending hours folding little sweatpants and t-shirts is not the best bang for my buck. My kids that don’t do their own laundry have bins and I just throw their play clothes in, unfolded (gasp!). I resolve to analyze principles first, and optimize methods accordingly.
- Enjoy the process. Everyone wants to have finished the race, but it does not automatically follow that we all want to run. Something I’ve been learning over the years of kid raising is to enjoy each stage. Really, it’s not a cliche. There is always something to be thankful for, something unique about each time that will not last forever. I resolve to keep my eyes fixed on heaven and open for blessings along the way.
- Press in to grace. One sure thing I can count on when making my resolutions is failure. Our flesh is right there with us whenever we want to do good, but thanks be to Jesus, he rescues these bodies of death (Rom 7). I resolve to be prayerfully dependent, perpetually repentant, and increasingly motivated to lay down my life by the power of the Holy Spirit because of the blood-bought grace of Christ for me.
May all our resolutions serve the chief end of man- to glorify God and enjoy him forever (WSC Q1). Godspeed!