It’s a little strange: this year lots of people have asked me: “Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?”
1. People don’t ask me about this
2. I don’t give it too much thought, actually. For some reason, I don’t get into the whole New Year’s “thing”. You know what I’m talking about: all the hoopla of “ringing in” the new year and the hype about making resolutions. Many times Heather and I go to bed before midnight on December 31, and, in some ways, other “special occasions” serve as instances to reassess my life. For example, when the summer is over and the kids are on the eve of starting school, I often think how I want the “year” (as in “school year”) to be different. In some ways, I’m more oriented to the “autumn to spring” sort of rhythm than the January/December rhythm. After the build-up of Christmas, New Year’s often seems like an afterthought.
But, this year, because a handful of people have inquired as to my resolutions, I’ve been thinking about it a bit.
And here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. I want this to be a year of prayerfulness. Often, I joke that the “original Greek” of the verse that says “Pray without ceasing” literally says “pray your butt off.” Well…this is the year I want to pray my butt off. So, if you see my backside increasingly diminished in size this year, you’ll know why.
2. I hereby dub this year “The Year of Hope”. For some reason it has only been in the past couple years that “hope” has even been on my radar screen, in terms of my “thought life”. What I mean to say is: often, different kinds of “themes” will roll round and round my head and heart. I enjoy thinking through the “ins and outs” of said themes. For example, I’ll find myself thinking on “grace” and, as the months pass, I’ll see a pattern (a kind of “habit”, if you will) develop. New thoughts will strike me about “grace”, its nature, its deterrents, etc.
At any rate, a sampling of these kinds of meta-themes that I find myself coming back to over long periods of time include things like “leadership”, “grace”, “suffering”, and “trust”.
And, for some reason, “hope” just never made it to that list of “meta-themes” for me.
That said, this is “the year of hope”. I have the inkling that this will be the year of coming back over and over again to hope: its nature, its importance, its reality, power and source.
This is important for me because, typically, I let little setbacks give occasion to despair and doubt. And (perhaps because of my upbringing) I tend to think that any blessing God has in mind for me, and any small blessing God grants to me, is only temporary, an exception. I often live my life (I’ve just realized this) expecting “bad” to happen, as if God is there waiting to “drop the boom”, so to speak. And then, when “it” happens, I’ll think: “See, I was right, after all. I am a failure, my life amounts to nothing, and God doesn’t really care.”
But this year, not only will I believe and hold more firmly to the inherent goodness of God, I will also…
1. Live in gratitude for the many abundant blessings he bestows upon us.
2. Resist falling so easily into despair when “setbacks” occur. I will choose to believe that God is good and, because he loves me, my life counts for something. In short, I choose hope (and, by extension, courage). This is the year of hope. This is the year of courage.
God, grant me the strength to hope and grant me the courage to step out in faith.
(Now: can you see why this is also a year of prayerfulness?)