Super. So I’ve failed my three usual Resolutions for the year, and I’m a week into the New Year. Cue the fizzles and gray smoke left behind after the bursts of noisy, colorful fireworks. And I fizzled out almost as quickly as the fireworks did. Oops. Just chalk it up to another rough year because my expectations of personal grandeur and a refreshed resolution that I can really change my practiced behavior or my nature at the great stroke of midnight on January 1.
Maybe I should add new resolutions or expectations to the usual list… like working out daily or eating more healthy foods or cutting out sugar or trying tofu or giving up coffee (nothing against tofu or any other food – I do eat mostly healthy stuff, but this girl still needs a bit of sugar and caffeine every now and then, sorry). Maybe I should resolve to put away the laundry after each load is done and folded. Maybe not. That one would certainly be a failure on day one.
What else do people resolve to do? What are YOUR resolutions? How are you doing with them? I hope you’re better at keeping them than I am…
Are your expectations of having a happy, healthy New Year already gone because you ate a cookie or you got angry over a bad day at work or with the kids? Are your expectations far from the reality that life just is not all that we expect it to be sometimes? Are your expectations and resolutions really designed to bring about frustration and anger and a sense of failure, however unintentionally as mine are? Are you fizzling out after the fireworks of fresh starts and excited wishes for a Happy New Year?
I do agree that the actual changing of the calendar and the idea of starting a new slate for the year is intriguing and potentially refreshing, but possibly unintentionally misguided or misplaced. I do agree that setting goals is important and can be helpful, as long as they do not bring about frustration and anger and anxiety, especially when the expectations are not met between the dates of January 1 and December 31. In reality, how can they?
How in the world can we expect monumental character change or lasting body transformations or impenetrable happiness to follow the calendar year?
Lasting change, committed change, lifelong change of any kind, weight or diet-related or otherwise, is not achieved overnight or in X number of weeks. It requires a hardcore commitment, a ton of work and time and patience, and an even greater amount of faith and grace to slog through the tough times and the hard work, to be forgiving of the mistakes and the little failures along the way, to rise up again and try again.
So this year, I give up on my usual New Year’s Resolutions and my expectations of grandeur this time around.
I’m not going to intentionally sign myself up for more instant frustration and anger and anxiety.
Why do so and then affect the lives of Husband or my babies when I take out my guilt and frustration on myself or them? That’s incredibly unfair to them and certainly a terrible example for my kids, especially since there are usually enough other places to find those troublemakers of emotions without bringing them on myself.
What I’m choosing instead to do is intentionally purposeful, requires relentless patience and dogged sincerity. Sounds exhausting already.
But here’s the thing – I know full well that learning and living these three things is going to be a life-long, life-changing experience and opportunity. I know that this is going to be hard, will require time and effort and patience, and yet will possibly be one of the most worthwhile things I do as a human, a wife, a mom, a follower of Jesus…
What better purpose could I have for doing something or making a commitment?
So here is my list for intentional living and loving…
– Let go. Why do I insist on hanging onto all of the cares and worries? Why do I think, re-think, analyze, guilt-trip my way through every day? How much time and effort am I wasting by directing my energy and thoughts in such a wrong place? Why do I try to rush through so much of life, trying to keep up with the imaginary time line I’ve established for how much to get done in a certain amount of time, even steam-rolling others’ wants or needs to just feel like I’ve proven my existence for another day as a wife, mom, child of God?
What am I trying to prove? And for whom?
Husband is so laid-back and doesn’t care how disorganized the house can sometimes be or how often he eats the same leftovers. Kids don’t care whether or not they wear the same clean clothes week after week, but they do care if I don’t spend enough time with them. They do care if I put too many other things in the wrong order of priorities, too often having to tell me so very directly.
There is a time and a place for learning patience – for all of us.
There is a time and a place to learn to just let go and let God.
Obviously God isn’t going to wash my dishes or spend time with my girls with fewer distractions (I do spend 24/7 with them as it is), but He does call me to let go of my own so-called priorities, my to-do list and imaginary timeline of efficiency, my own self. This doesn’t mean allowing myself to become lazy or complacent or sloppy, but rather it means to allow my desires to fall away and let His enter.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” God does call me to let go of the things that are less important than Him and allowing Him to reorganize my life. He does call me to let go of the things I sometimes put ahead of my family, whom I am so utterly blessed to have been given and with whom I get to share life and love and faith.
He does call me to let go and let Him in, into the deeper hurts and stronger joys and greater purposes He has waiting.
I don’t have to understand what I’m being called into, I don’t always have to like the hard parts, I do have to trust that, because He loves me infinitely and in spite of me, God’s ways are more than enough.
His path does indeed lead somewhere, and I just have to let go of my own map to His direction to see where His map will lead. Thank you, Lord.
– Come. If God created all of humanity and the entire universe, designed the intricate places of each heart and mind and soul, why do I do anything other than come to Him and lay my own praises and prayer requests at His feet?
If the God who loves me enough to create me as I am, in all of my brokenness and mistakes, how could He not also already know my needs and wants and resistance to His path?
Why do I think that I can hide anything from Him, that I can have a better plan than He has for me, that I know more about what His purpose is for me than He does?
We are begged by the God of the Universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Most High Emmanuel to come to Him, to let go of ourselves and our burdens, and to give them up to Him. Say what?!
It’s certainly not like God doesn’t have enough things going on, what with wars and terrorists and natural disasters and school shootings.
It’s certainly not like God needs one more person’s burdens upon His shoulders.
And yet, and yet, He calls us to Himself, Jesus Himself begs His people to come unto Him and lay down
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'” Get that? Jesus Himself offers to give US rest, to give up and let go of our weariness and our heavy burdens, to learn from the Master of Gentle and Humble in Heart.
Jesus says that HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light, and that WE are the weary and burdened ones.
What’s even more incredible is that Jesus says this profoundness after we read chapters upon chapters of healings and cleansings and miracles He is asked to perform, lists of persecutions He and His disciples could face, teaching after teaching for His people to glean His God-essence from and take out into the nations.
Jesus says that this yoke, the burdens of the world, is easy and light. Incredible. Humbling. Relief.
Jesus is greater and bigger and stronger than I am. Jesus is willing and able to take on those things I need to let go.
I am just to COME and LET GO and let Him take it on and lead me onward. Thank you, Lord.
– Be held. One of my current favorite songs is by Casting Crowns, “Just be Held.” It talks about being chained by my own control, about the need for freedom from those chains and to let go of the things that are wearying and worrisome, to lay them at the feet of Jesus and let His yoke carry them. The song goes on to say that the “world isn’t falling apart, it’s falling into place” – wow is that so good and necessary and lovely to hear.
Sometimes the world, literally and figuratively, seems to be crumbling around us.
The global eruptions of violence and terrorism, racism and intolerance surround us, choking out the Light of the World – if we let it.
The pain and heartache and roller coaster ride of life brushes aside the intention of our Father, who wants to comfort us and seeks us out in spite of ourselves.
I had mentioned in my Christmas Eve post that last year was a rough year for us for a variety of reasons and how necessary it was to see and feel the hope that was brought to Earth as a tiny, vulnerable baby in a manger. It’s a hope that sometimes feels so far away, usually because I put it there, because I drown out the quiet voice of God with my own cacophony of busy-ness and noise.
It’s a hope that is lost when I hang on too tight and forget to let go, forget to just come to the Throne and lay down, forget to fall on my knees and just be held by the God who has such divine, ultimate, infinite love that He begs me to be there, in the palm of His hand, resting and beholding the Joy that only He can bring as He purposes.
There is something so comforting, so peace-bringing, about just simply being held, whether in the warm enveloping hug of Husband or in the soft squeeze of little child hands. I hope and pray that you have felt your own peace and comfort and place of rest in just being held.
Sometimes that’s one of the things that makes God seem so distant is that we often don’t feel held or comforted physically, when we just really need it.
And yet, God has placed others – people, pets, places, anything – in our lives to remind us of His presence, to remind us that He holds us in the palm of His hands always.
Isaiah 41:10 & 13 states, “‘[D]o not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. … 13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.'”
And later in Isaiah 49:16a, “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…” These are just tiny, selected examples of the incredible picture of God’s infinite love within the greater Love Story called the Bible. But here, God is calming the Israelites, telling them to not to be afraid, not to worry that they have been forgotten.
He even tells them, very specifically, that they are inscribed on the palms of His Holy Hands. Wow and wow.
Psalm 139 speaks so distinctly about creating each of us in our mother’s wombs, that God knows each hair on each head, every thought in our minds, every word on our tongues.
How could God abandon us? How could He, who searches us and knows us completely, not hold us in the palm of His hand, where we are even inscribed therein.
We are begged to let go of our own ways and timing, requested by Jesus to come and lay burdens, sought out by God Himself to be held so that we may behold His glory and joy. Thank you, Lord.
So let us resolve every year, with earnest prayer and dauntless confidence, purposeful tenacity and relentless abandon, to let go of ourselves and our lives, to come to Jesus with weary burdens, to be held in God’s hands with hope-filled expectation of Him and His presence and His Goodness.
Today, tomorrow, always.
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go
~Casting Crowns, “Just Be Held”