Grace for the New Year

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Let’s just start by putting it all out there: 2020 was a mess. That’s putting it lightly.

I, like almost every other person on the planet, have been ready to welcome 2021 with open arms, and we are finally here. As I write this, we are just a handful of hours into the new year. But, by the time you are reading this, we will be several weeks into the new year. I wake up on New Year’s Day every year with a sense of “carpe diem. The slate is clean, and the hopes are high. This will be MY year. I will finally ______ (fill in the blank here).
However, by the time I am a few weeks in, my hope for making the year the “best ever!” has begun to deflate. I no longer feel as energetic and renewed as I had on New Year’s Day. It generally snowballs from there until I fall back into my old habits, pushing things I’d swore to accomplish to the side and tucking them quietly away, waiting for the clock to strike midnight next December 31st and polish that slate up nice and clean for me.

If I have learned anything from the insanity of the last year, it is that anything can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. You can begin each day-each moment-with the will to move mountains, but when it all boils down there are very few things we can truly control. As I sat with that thought over the last few weeks, I decided that a resolution was not for me. Not anymore. I want to accomplish so much, but the pressure of sticking to specific terms does nothing more than allow me to feel awful about myself when I fail.

Instead of a resolution (or ten), I decided that I would choose words. Words strung together in such a way that they grabbed my attention and instilled in me a longing. The very next day I happened upon a very familiar Bible verse. I can repeat the words as easily as telling you my phone number, but when I read it that day it hit me much differently. For the first time, I thought about what the explicit meaning of those words were to me. The verse is Proverbs 31: 25, and it describes a woman who is strong and capable. She carries herself with dignity and speaks wisely. She is not afraid of what is to come, because she knows that it will be ok regardless. I believe that this resonated with me so much because I don’t feel like the verse describes me at all, but I would be incredibly flattered if someone spoke of me using that way. I am such a worrier and it can be all-consuming, so truly trying to take a step back and let go is a major challenge for me. However, I know that it is something I need to be conscious of and working on continually.

There are so many ways to work towards a goal. For myself, I want to try to become stronger in many areas of my life. Physically, by working out when I am able. Spiritually, by practicing my faith. Mentally, by meditating on inspiring quotes, and also making sure that I am checking in on myself instead of allowing my surroundings to become even more chaotic. I need to put my oxygen mask on first. I am no good to anyone in a state of unintentionality.

2020 was a game-changer for all of us. I can only speak for myself but I needed the world to fall around me and be pushed into uncomfortable situations to grow. I think many of us have been faced with the reality that there is only so much we can actually do. We cannot control the majority of events in our life but we can choose how to respond to them. This year, instead of trying to grasp black and white goals that are graded in my own mind with a pass/fail system, I want to allow myself ever-present grace, thankfulness, growing stronger, and working toward looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a bit of that Proverbs 31 woman.

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