My birthday is in January, so when the new year rolls in, it always feels like an extra blank slate to me because it's a new calendar year and a new age, all rolled into one.
This year, at the commencement of 2017 and of age 32, I had a sense that I knew what would be a good next step for me in my development...but I haven't been QUITE willing to 'look it in the face' fully and embrace it...because it would require a bit on energy on my part and an intentional change of routine.
It's like with our children, how sometimes we think about what would help them move to the next level academically or physically in sports. It could be, for the homeschooling Classical Conversations mom, pushing a child to become a 'Memory Master' of the content. Or it could be switching dance schools to a harder teacher, or perhaps a more grace-filled one, depending on the needs of that particular child. But we know it will move our child's development to the next level.
Well, when I think about myself, I'm pretty sure that I know what will help move me along to the next level of development, spiritually, emotionally, socially...in so much of who I am as a person.
But I'm a little bit skittish about it, because it's the basic idea of...
I'm the kind of person that it's just easy and natural for me to do what seems 'immediate and neccessary' to me or what seems 'nice' in the moment to me. But I'm realizing that I have these things that I value, or I want to value, but I end up only valuing them 'in theory' because I don't intentionally carve out time and energy to develop these values in my life. Because I'm too busy just doing whatever seems immediate, neccessary, and nice.
Let me be more specific, so you know what I'm talking about. They're not huge things that I want to do, so they're easy to forgo.
In 2017, I want to make sure I process my emotions well. I used to be a frequent journal-er, but life as a mom has made it easy for me to push journaling to the side too often. I so believe that the light and life of God come to me when I bring my real emotions to God, my Maker and my Redeemer, and let Him inform me about how to live, how to think, how to feel, how to react. He changes me from the inside out. But it's way too easy to just go through life experiencing emotions but not really processing them.
I'm also coming to realize that the time has come for me to delve into my parenting philosophies again: when I first became a mom, I studied and read about which method I wanted to follow, what I believed would be the best 'path' for our family in how I mothered my girls. And when they were a little older, I knew I didn't understand much about authority and teaching a child to follow a parent's leadership and voice, so I watched my husband, I asked him to help me learn, I read some books...I learned. I'm sensing that in 2017, it's time to learn again. It's too easy for me to just respond to my daughters...and have my interactions with them have pretty much nothing to do with immersing them in the Gospel- the very Good News about what Jesus did and accomplished on the cross and what it means for how we get to live. I want to make sure that I set up boundaries for my girls that lead them to places where they realize that they do, in fact, sin. And when they get to that point, I want to be learning and growing in my ability to point them to the great Rescuer, the one who can wash them clean and accept them because of His performance, not theirs. I want to make sure my parenting is about more than just doing what feels natural or easy fixes in the moment.
And lastly, I happen to know that the way that I think about myself and the way that I interact with other people is just too often a reaction to the insecurities and the shame that resides within me. I don't naturally live believing that what God says about me, in the Bible, is true. In 2017, I'd like to at least make sure that I'm hearing what God says about me, and not just hearing my own insecurities and shame.
But none of that will ever happen on its own, magically. Of course, it doesn't happen by works alone, either. It's like a mix of making space, making time, and letting God to do the work that He alone can do in me. But on my part, in 2017, the part that I am responsible to embrace and grow in is...
What I'm thinking it will look like is just building into my regular routine short snippets of time that I regularly honor: I'm picturing 20-30 minutes of something very practical on a weekly basis to reflect each of these values...so that I don't just 'value them in theory.'
For example, I'll plan out when I will take time to journal, when I will take time to read and think through Paul Tripp's parenting book (14 Gospel Principles That Can Really Change Your Family), when I will spend time in God's Word taking in what He says about me, and when I I will study and think through some books about shame and how it affects how I think and what I do.
I don't think that the kind of discipline that I'm talking about requires a superhuman amount of energy. I think it just requires a little bit of time, but repeated consistently. Something I put on my calendar and choose to honor, week after week.
One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Sara Groves, talks about this concept on a commentary of her song 'On Your Mark,' (which can be found on Spotify...the album is called Floodplain). She talks about a Dorothy Day quote that says:
"Show me your day and I will show you your life."
When I heard that, it resonated with me. And it also scared me a little. Because it's so easy to just float through life thinking that I'm really valuing things, when I'm only valuing them in theory...and my life will end up reflecting that. But in 2017, with the help of discipline, I want to make space in my days for my values, so that they truly are a part of my life.