Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolution Fatigue

Right away, I should get this off my chest: this is not a classic New Years’ post.   It’s more of a confession:

Thinking about resolutions exhausts me.

It’s not that I don’t want to make positive changes in my life.  But there are just so many that need to be made.   When I think about them, it’s like positioning my face a few inches from the nozzle of a fully-engaged firehose.  There’s no way I can take a sip, or even a gulp.  Instead, I’m gasping to get any oxygen at all.
Whether it’s deciding how to spend a few free hours, or considering what I might give up for Lent, I have no shortage of ideas.  Quite the contrary.  I’ve been “blessed” with the ability (and never-ending-middle-of-the-night mental energy) to dream up countless “good” things to do.  Some might enjoy this version of “creativity.”  I am not one of them.

Perhaps an illustration will help.  I’m not trying to fall asleep yet (so this will be on the short side), but this here's the product of a brief brainstorming session on potential (and, in most cases, necessary) New Years’ resolutions:
* Give up caffeine.
* Give up multi-tasking.
* Improve at multi-tasking.
* Eat less sugar.
* Eat more vegetables.
* Grow my own vegetables.
* Try to get rid of this post-40 belly fat that is becoming harder to camouflage.
* Stop fussing so much over my silly appearance; no one cares, anyway.
* Start cutting coupons.
* Make my kitchen counter a “no paper” zone.
* Fix better family breakfasts.
* Walk my dog each day.
* Walk with a friend.
* Train for a 10k, or a triathlon (because I’m not getting any younger)
* Learn how to swim laps first.
* Give up exercising so I can use that time for something else.
* Submit an academic paper.
* Learn how to grade more efficiently.
* Do more research in my field.
* Get to know my colleagues better.
* Play board games with my kids more often.
* Spend less time online.
* Delete my facebook account.
* Blog more regularly.
* Blog less often.
* Give up blogging.
* Read more books.
* Find a Bible reading plan.
* Stick with it.
* Take my family on a mission trip.
* Make regular visits to a nearby nursing home with my children.
* Start a book club.
* Start a Bible study in the neighborhood, for working moms, at my job (why not all three?)
* Have my husband’s baseball players over, just to get to know them a little bit.
* Serve more in my children’s school.
* Iron my kids’ clothes more faithfully (if you’ve seen them at school, you understand)
* Offer to fix my daughter’s hair in the mornings (see previous parenthetical note).
* Start sewing my daughter’s clothes (this impulse, in particular, frightens me.  I’ll stop here).

Please, please . . . someone turn OFF the firehose!  I am drowning in ideas.  The problem is that there’s not a bad one in the bunch.  But since there’s no way I can do all of them, I end up resolving to do none of them.

Hey . . . maybe that’s not a bad idea.

Maybe the things on my impossible list are less about pleasing God and more about measuring up to someone else’s standards.  Or maybe I'm trying to prove something to myself about how strong, how accomplished, how self-disciplined, how devoted I am.  Silly, don't you think?

At the beginning of 2011, a friend of mine asked God to give her a single word for the year. “What a wonderful idea,” I thought.  “So manageable.  So concrete.”

So I prayed the same prayer.   And although there's always the chance that this was wishful thinking on my part, here's what I believe I heard: 

LESS.

I haven’t done it often enough, but just saying that little word has the powerful ability to shut off the firehose.  Allow me to breathe.  Invite me to sip, even savor, the Living Water.

It also reminds me that fulfilling God’s plan is as much about what God does as it is about my frenzied, goofy, self-important busy-ness.  He is the One who promises to complete the work that He began in me.

I don’t know what my word-of-the-year will be for 2012.  I haven’t asked yet.   I’ve been too busy brainstorming my own ideas.  

I think I’ll put down my pen, close my computer, and listen for a day or two.  If I happen to hear something, I’ll likely report it here

I don’t really know who (if anyone) is reading, but should you be inclined to pray a similar prayer (or if you have a different approach entirely), it might be fun to share our responses here.  Not to add to one another’s lists.  But to see and celebrate the different ways God will accomplish His purposes in the days and weeks that will be 2012.

Write back if you like . . . . . 

8 comments:

  1. Anne. I so relate. Love your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart. Praying for my word. :)
    -Becky Crenshaw

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  2. Love your blogs and YOU and yours. I'm going to pray for MY word...just love that idea. I'll let you know! Thank you for what you're doing. God is honoring it and blessing us reader friends :)
    -Nancy H

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  3. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I like reading your thoughts on "where God is on this" or "that".....makes me think

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  4. Great post, Anne! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I can so relate! I especially identified with my "list" being less about pleasing God and more about measuring up to the standards of others. (Or what I believe their standards are!) So silly! I'm going to be listening for my WORD from Him! Love this!

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  5. So, how's this for irony? Reading your post, I was reminded that I had chosen a word about this time last year. Sitting here now, I cannot recall what the word is. The irony is that I will have to go back into my Facebook history to find it! No matter how much God may inspire us and give us a word, we still have to commit to doing the work. I will find that word when I look back as I'm confident it's still there. The word didn't leave me, I left it. Thanks for the inspiration...keep 'em coming!

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  6. Anne, you so remind me of Beth Moore in your authenticity and vulnerability. This is so important that we share the great, not-so-great-and lukewarm moments of life with others. I find much encouragement in hearing the truth of the struggle. Thanks for sharing this with us! I have prayed for a verse and a word for 2012. Happy New Year, my friend!

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  7. Anne, This is a great entry! I especially like the part of asking God to speak to you. I have done that from time to time and the theme that God has spoken is the same.

    Be Still and Know that I am GOD!

    This is something that I wish I could say I have mastered but it is something I desire!
    Blessings, Jamie

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  8. I almost had to take a vomit break when I read that list. Seriously. I started getting ill at all the ideas you have to improve your life that haven't even crossed my mind.

    I can't even add any ideas to the few things I HAVE to do that never even got done in 2011. Or 2010. Or. Oh, never mind.

    Thanks for sharing. And for that LESS word. Now, here's for LESS time playing Spider Solitaire on the PC.

    Oh, is that a resolution?

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