Several years ago, I heard a psychologist on the radio suggest that instead of trying to jump-start a New Year’s resolution or major life change on January 1st–right in the midst of the hustle of the holiday season–why not use January as a month for reflection and planning so that FEBRUARY can be the month for a new start? I liked that suggestion.
I came into the month of January with a lot of ideas about the goals I would set for 2013. I already knew that I would work on focus. I knew that I needed deliberate practice in being mentally present in my day-to-day life. Maybe you are like me. I do a lot of daydreaming, a lot of planning for the future. I can get stuck in a week’s worth of daydreams just because I found a hypothetical something that tickled my imagination. I am easily distracted from NOW because I’m thinking about later. Partly, I think I’m like this because I’ve been a student from the time I was four until I left my PhD program about a month before my thirty-first birthday (more about that here). As a student, especially a graduate student, you are kind of living for the future. There is always a goal to reach, a step to take, an accomplishment to check off the list. All of these things hold the promise of something better later. Graduate school is a great exercise in delayed gratification. You live like a pauper hoping that someday you won’t have to!
I digress. (Ironic!)
So in the midst of planning to focus, I started planning a lot of other goals. I was going to commit to keeping a journal, and then I decided that I needed two journals–one for practical matters and one for fun, artistic stuff. Then I decided that I also would need a prayer journal. So much for being focused, huh? I set some goals about organizing my home. I set a goal about money management and keeping my e-mail inbox clean. I set exercising goals and made a plan to read more, take more pictures, and be in more pictures. Sigh. I’m really bad at being focused.
Then, right at the end of the month, everything became clear in a three part mini act of God. First, one of my favorite blogs featured a post that looked a little like mine. A sweet, godly mom was reflecting on how she had been in survival mode rather than growing in her faith journey. I quickly wrote to defend her, but I realized that I am doing the same thing, and in writing to support her, I was sort of telling myself that “I’m okay” when maybe I am not. Secondly, my husband realized that we had drifted pretty far in our financial giving to others and to our church. In the past, we have seen how much we are blessed by giving, and we want to be generous even in our own struggles. Very hard, and we totally fail…often. It was not some sort of legalistic You-Must-Give-Everything-You-Own-Or Else moment; rather it was just a self-assessment of where we once were compared to where we are now. I, too, had felt that we’ve been living for us instead of truly living for others as we’ve been called to do. I began to reconsider my New Year’s resolutions at that point.
At the start of the final week of January, I volunteered to teach our Sunday School class on February 3rd. The people in the class take turns leading it, and I was just in the mood to take a Sunday. During the service, I decided to sneak a look at the passage that I would be teaching: Hebrews 5. Ugh. That’s a tough one. And here is where my attention was truly grabbed:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
While I’m busy caring for kids, tending to a home, messing around on Facebook, folding laundry and neglecting to put it away, driving to and fro, glancing longingly at other people’s lives on cute blogs, reading this and that, sweeping up endless amounts of dry cereal, and doing more laundry, I’m not always growing in the ways that are important–to me or to God. I am not complaining about my current season of life at all. I actually love this time in my life with all its messes and demands. I wouldn’t trade all the cereal for even the biggest paycheck. Nonetheless, I’ve been in a funk, and I knew I wanted to stop moving through this comfortable but very safe life and instead feel what it is like to have nothing holding me up but God’s will. Does that make sense?
I used to be on a major spiritual growth spurt. During college, I was on fire! I was reading my Bible and building a healthy prayer life. It was a great time. But it was also a time of personal struggle for a lot of reasons, and those dark moments fueled my hunger for God. I wanted to feel Him and know Him better. I guess I got too comfy in recent years because the hunger has changed. I still long for God’s presence and His care, but I seem to want to meet that need in ways that don’t require my work or my time. Hmmm…not good. I’ve had “the milk” many times over, but I have to wonder: am I ready for the solid food? Am I going to just remain satisfied to sip at the sweet but simple parts of the gospel or chomp on the hard stuff? The real question though: am I going to live it or just think about it. Some more. Again.
If you made it to the end of this very long post, here is the conclusion that I’ve reached:
I can set a New Year’s resolution. It would fine if I worked on the goal to keep my laundry washed and my bedroom floor clear of clutter. Those are good things. It would be okay to commit to exercising five days per week or eating more veggies. But I decided that I don’t need another resolution. I need a revolution. I apologize for the corny play on words, but maybe it will stick in your head the way it has in mine. I need to turn back to the things that matter beyond my day-to-day. It does begin with focus as I said in the beginning, and the follow-through is a big dose of study and prayer, two things that have moved to the periphery as I unconsciously decided that my house and homeschooling and money (or lack of it) and many other things were more important.
I have no idea if this blog matters in big ways or even small ones, but since it is an extension of me, Warm as Pie is going to change, too. If you’ve been here before, I’m sure you noticed the new look. The menu across the top has an addition that I hope you will explore, and the “About” section has been updated as well. I’ve added a few things to the “Places I Love” page, too. Each month, I’ll be highlighting different blogs, websites, and even family interviews. I cannot wait to introduce you to my first family! But if you’re not really a fan of change, don’t worry. Most of my blog content will be pretty much the same. Just me thinking about stuff, taking pictures, and sweeping cereal.