Today is the first day of a new year. I am happy to say that in the past few year I have been able to overcome, whether it be intentional or not, the urge to create a list of “Resolutions” (read: “unreasonably high expectations for myself and others”). No judgment on anyone who chooses to do so. For me, it became a list of all the ways I had failed in the past year and created pressure to perform (with certain disappointment) in the upcoming year. The “list” was usually violated within the first couple days of January. I have done it differently the past few years because I have committed to a way of living that includes examining myself daily and making adjustments as needed. It also gives me grace when I fail and a chance to start my “year” over at any point throughout my day.
That being said-part of why I am writing about this topic today is because I almost didn’t. I almost didn’t write because I don’t feel like I have all my ducks in a row. It’s really uncomfortable to write when I don’t feel successful in managing my own life or accomplishing all I wish I could. It feels hypocritical. But as I begin this new year, it occurs to me that I might never reach a place where my “ducks” aren’t swimming aimlessly around the pond or submerged, bottoms up, head under the murky water. I am doing the best I can, but as soon as I corral a couple ducklings, a couple more pop out of the group and swim away. It’s an endless and exhausting task. I am realizing that if I make adjustments throughout my day, with God’s help, I can handle life as it comes. One day at a time. It doesn’t mean I don’t have principles that I live by, or routines and habits I try to incorporate, I just accept that I am much more likely to become someone I respect and enjoy if I don’t set myself up by creating lists of expectations that I will most certainly use to beat myself up with.
The other day I bought two new pairs of jeans. I payed cash because I used my birthday money. My birthday was in September. I have been carrying it around in my purse for 4 months. Why? Because I was waiting until I reached the perfect size and weight before I bought anything new; Before I deserved to spend this money on myself. I am proud to announce that yes, I have achieved this goal. Well-I should explain: I haven’t reached the perfect size and weight of where I desire to be, but I have reached the perfect size and weight for where I am today. Because where I am at today has to be enough, especially because you can only wear the same pair of jeans so many times a week. Eventually you have to take them off long enough to wash them! I had been living as if I wasn’t allowed look good or spend money on myself or participate in the fashion world because I wasn’t “where I wanted to be.” I do this in other areas too. Sometimes I live with a “When-then” mentality and miss out on living in the “here and now”. “When I can get this bad habit/sin/character defect under control or defeated then I will reach out to help others grow.” “When I stop screaming at my kids then I will call another young parent to offer support.” “When I make more money, then I will give to my church/that charity/that cause.” “When I have my spiritual life in perfect working order then I will share my experience, strength and hope with someone who suffers.” “When I know the exact words to say to a sick/seperated/broken friend, then I will call.” Please hear me: the “when” is not coming. And, I hate to be the bearer of worse news, but if you feel you have “arrived” at the perfect state and are now able to be of service to others, you might be in the most dangerous place of all. Just when we think we have it all together, there is undoubtedly more that will be revealed if we are open to seeing it.
We are always growing, changing, morphing. We will never “arrive” this side of eternity. So get on with the business of reaching out, loving, serving, helping, writing, calling, sharing, supporting, teaching, and shopping for jeans. Who you are at this minute is exactly who you are meant to be. Your greatest failures, flaws and hang-ups are the very things that give value to what you have to offer.