It is January 9th…I’ve re-written that date for a few days now since I keep revising this blog post. I’ve never really been one to put a lot of emphasis on New Year’s Resolutions.
To be more specific, I really dislike most of the New Year’s Resolution-esque ideals–I don’t eat black eyed peas; I don’t pick a word that will sum up the year ahead; I don’t wish others “the best year yet”. (I think that’s all a bunch of hooey.) I remember when growing up, every New Year’s Day my mom would make us eat a handful of black-eyed peas, and every year I thought they were the most disgusting things ever. If my successful future year depends on me eating those horrible squishy peas, then I quit from day 1. It’s not even worth it. Plus, I’m a Christian. That’s all magical non-sense anyway. I’m quite sure God doesn’t care if I eat 2 or 2 million black-eyed peas. Nothing about eating those peas is going to affect the year ahead.
I also don’t pick a word that sums up the year ahead. Now, I get why people do. It seems very millenial and very mature to pick a theme that will help you focus more in the new year …and much more realistic than eating nasty peas. However, how can I know that the word I pick will actually do anything to help me in 2018? What if it’s irrelevant? What if it is actually false? What if I pick the word “healthy”, and then I am diagnosed with something? In the words of Simon Cowell from American Idol, “It seems too indulgent.” People like to seem thoughtful and analytical and purposeful…yet they miss the point. Reflection seems like a much better tool for learning and finding purpose than presupposition. The word I would choose on Dec. 31, 2017 to define the year in review would be a much different word than I would’ve chosen on January 1, 2017 not knowing what was to come. As a Christian, I wonder if God sits in Heaven thinking “Oh, so that’s how you’re going to control the year. You’ll let me control some of it, and you’ve got some mighty overarching word as a trump card or fall back plan.” I could be wrong though. Maybe your super powerful word is all-encompassing no matter what happens…but then who is in control of your life? You or God? This morning I heard a lady on the radio say that her word for the year is “presence.” She said she wanted to be “present” in every situation. So, is she normally a space cadet? Is she on her phone too much? Or is she really wanting to engage with every minute detail of her trip to Walmart? Seems a bit lofty and unrealistic to me.
Lastly, I don’t get why people make false promises to me. “This will be your best year yet!” Um, no, actually it might not be. In fact, if you knew what was going on in my life, you might realize that this year could be very difficult for the first few months. I understand that some people say it in passing without thought—as a cliche phrase that seems hopeful. The problem is that some people, some very good Christian people, say this so knowingly–as if God let them in on a secret but didn’t tell me. Here’s what 37 year old Ashley knows from having lived for 37 New Year’s–every year will bring some joy and laughter, every year will bring some hardship, every year will bring some kind of hurt and pain, every year will bring sorrow, every year will bring hope for a new beginning and/or peace from a needed ending. Each year is like a pie chart. Some years the percentages are skewed more positively then others, but you know that at some point you’ll be sad, then happy, hopefully content, and unfortunately, confused, frustrated, angry, and annoyed.
Promising me a “best year yet” actually promises me failure. Instead of the reality of what the year will bring, someone just promised me success and solutions to all of the issues still active from 2017. I actually want to ask these false promisers if they understand that just because 2017 ended, it doesn’t mean that problems and issues end. I woke up on January 1st still having to think about and deal with the same husband, kids, dog, issues, etc. that I did on Dec. 31st–literally nothing about that 24 hour period will magically change anything–so don’t promise me that. It actually kind of seems quite mean. I always hope that at the end of the year, I have learned something and can grow from it. Sure, a new year brings hope–that’s a good thing–but unrealistic expectations and promises for “a best year yet” aren’t hopeful, they are at best, arrogant and fake, at worst, dangerous and a set up for failure.
So now that I’ve officially offended just about everyone. What does Ashley like to do on January 1st?
- I reflect on the previous year. Sometimes I do this in my own heart and in my own quiet time with God, but I also include my husband when it comes to certain family, business, or kid issues. It’s nice to sit as a family and talk about some of our favorite moments and hardest times.
- I remember that God is in control. It seemed quite ironic (or coincidental? or the Holy Spirit working?) that our minister preached on this very topic today. I believe that God is in control of my future, so no word or promise is going to actually change the course of the new year.
- I start a disciplined routine. This year, I began with No Sugar January. I know it’s something I can tackle. It isn’t pie in the sky like “Lose 20 lbs”. It is doable, maintainable, and hopefully fairly easy. Plus, the Bible talks about being disciplined. I think it’s good to practice discipline in different areas of our life. (See 2 Tim. 1:7, Proverbs 10:17, 12:1, 22:15, Titus 1:8, to name a few)
- I recalibrate. It’s nice to not just review 2017 but also to ask myself and family hard questions. Where did we get off track? Where are we being lazy or undisciplined? Where can we do better? Sometimes it’s as simple as cooking one more meal at home during the week or making more time to be with my girls one-on-one. The Christmas season is so overwhelming for our family because we work in retail, that the first week of January is a nice time to get back to the basics of our family life and routine.
- I prioritize. Probably because I am a Type A personality, I love to organize, so it makes sense that I like to sit and write out the priorities in my life. The world distracts me, quite often, from what my priorities should be–God, husband, kids, work, life group, etc. It’s helpful to take a hard look at those areas and try to refocus on putting them back in the correct order.
In 2018, I hope you find the peace and love of Christ. I hope you can recalibrate and prioritize as needed. I hope you find a way to be disciplined in life. I hope by the end of 2018 you can reflect and see that you look more like Jesus than you did in January. I hope that you find hope in the fact that God is in control.
Blessings at the beginning, middle, and end of 2018,