How natural is it for us to make New Year resolutions? It’s almost instinctual. First, we begin to reflect on the past year as the holidays approach and then, when the end of December nears, as a result of reflection, we create resolutions and goals for another new year. A new start, a new beginning. And this year in particular, we enter a new decade, 2020 – so this becomes an extra special way to kick off our bucket list, to start becoming a better person maybe, doing things we’ve been meaning to get around to, living healthier, growing spiritually, mentally, physically, or maybe even learning a new skill. Whatever it may be, I think it’s safe to say we each have something that comes to mind, whether we intend to carry through with it or not.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making New Year resolutions; we make resolutions and goals all the time – even mid-year. But first things first, please don’t think you have to wait for a new year, or even a new month or new week. There’s never a better time to work at something or change, than NOW; even if that “now” is a Tuesday : ) It’s never too late. Where we fall short (myself included) however, is following through with these New Year resolutions. I remember in the past, I always set goals for the new year because it was the thing to do ~ everybody does it each year and I felt obligated in a sense to come up with something so that I was prepared when I would be asked the popular question, “what’s your New Year’s resolution?”. To be honest, for a long time, I never made real goals for the new year. All along, I think in the back of my mind, I knew there would be goals I’d work toward whether I claimed them to be my “New Year resolution” or not, so why bother with making these types of goals? Also, I knew that most New Year’s resolutions start out strong and great, but by February they fizzle out and die… so what’s the point!? …Yes, I thought this… And in a way, I was already setting myself up for failure, already claiming failure actually by thinking this in my mind. Projecting negativity on what I could or would do. The problem with all of this? My intentions. I didn’t have true intentions for a long time. I wasn’t purposeful with my actions and decisions at times. I had moments where I wasn’t thoughtful with what I was doing or why. As if I didn’t care. Granted, this could be because for a while I was trying to figure things out. Who I was, where I was going, what I wanted in life, in my career, learning, growing up. But this went on longer than it should have. It wasn’t until the later part of the 2010 decade that my eyes and my mind were opened wide, and my vision became clear to my prior self, the life I had been living, what had transpired through the years, and who I was going to be next.
Instead of New Year resolutions, I personally like the idea of “themes” or a specific word chosen for the year where all aspects of life will be centered around to reach a new personal level based on where you would like to see growth in your life. For me, this began in 2018, when I chose STRENGTH as my word [check out my post I wrote on this from 02/25/18, titled “2018 = Strength”]. This did not come to me all of a sudden; as you can see it took a few months into the new year for me to find my specific word. I didn’t want this to be something that I did on a whim though. I wanted it to be meaningful, I was intentional about it, and so I stayed still, reflected, and listened to what God was saying. My key word meant a lot to me ~ this is also when my intentions became real ~ more real than they had ever been before. Strength became my central word for 2018. I was not speaking of the physical, but a strength in character, in life, and through Jesus. After hitting my rock bottom in 2016 and some of my most difficult and darkest moments, I had no where to go. That’s when God rescued me out of this pit I thought was inescapable. I realized it was… on my own. But the strength that I felt through the power of the Lord and Holy Spirit made it possible. That’s the strength I focused on then and continue to this day – a strength that empowers me when my own fails and is too weak (which, let’s get real, is basically all the time). My frailty points to the beauty found in perfect strength through Christ. 2017 was a year of getting back on my feet, learning truths all over again, introspection, repentance, and being set back on a path of following the Lord and His plans for me. Again, I was shaky and imperfect but knew which direction I needed to head. By the end of 2017, I was growing again, excited, gaining strength and only wanted more of this kind of strength! As 2018 began, I was led back to verses on strength in the Lord and that’s where my “theme” for the year (and years ahead) was born.
Looking back over 2018 and even 2019, I am blown away by the difference in who I was then to who I was in years prior. But for 2019, I didn’t write a word. I didn’t think of a central word for the new year. My blog fell to the side some and my focus shifted at the very end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. Not away from God, but in a way that had never happened to me before. With something that I thought would turn out differently than it actually did, God meant for something else for me. He used someone to grow me even more in 2019. If I thought God had opened my eyes in 2016, it was nothing compared to the eye-opening and HEART-opening experience that 2019 brought… like major… so much that I’m even ten times more excited for what He has planned for me and my continual growth!
2019 was a whirlwind – but a beautiful whirlwind (even when it was scary and difficult). I learned a lot about myself through the connections, relationships, and friendships that developed in 2019. I delved deeper into my heart, into the heart and character of God, seeing His beauty, His infinite reach, and even utilizing the strength that I began working on the prior year because I definitely needed it mid-year. Before 2019, I was a woman who guarded her heart and held it so close and so shut off that I didn’t allow anyone in, not even friends. I was even shut off to myself in a way. I was scared of letting down my walls, I held onto control with a tight grip and was unwilling to let go. This control came from a protection I thought I needed over my heart, but it was very much misplaced. I do believe in guarding your heart, but where is that guard coming from and why is it there? Mine was built and tightly secured by fear and lack of trust in God. I believed I had no reason before, to loosen this grip and truly let my walls down. But that was shattered this past year and I’m so thankful it was. My heart is protected; but the steel frame surrounding it is no longer. I learned so many lessons this year that I want to encourage you with some of them as well.
Guard your heart, friend. I struggle with this; as I stated, for a while I protected it too much. I hid things about my life not only from friends, but family as well and it’s not healthy. As much as we might try sometimes, we cannot do this life alone. I encourage you to find your community and take the brave step to open up to them and be vulnerable. Allow them to see all that you are and hold you accountable. Everyone’s community is different – in number, in age, with people in different seasons of life but whatever yours looks like, make sure these are people that love you no matter what and are truly there for you. At the moment, mine is my family and four super close, beautiful, amazing girlfriends. After tearing down so many layers of protection over my heart, I had to quickly learn how to balance the guard that is necessary. I had to re-learn who to trust and who I was investing time in. This resulted in the loss of friendships that I learned I could not trust as they hurt me with betrayal and our differences were too great; I had to learn to still love these people, but also take a step back and realize that as we change and move through different seasons of life, people might move away from you personally as well. I became more aware of the actions and true intentions of some people around me. When you go through moments that are deep, hurtful, dark, and difficult, it’s very easy to see the hearts of people and how they treat you during these times. Their character and heart is revealed ~ pay attention. But out of this rejection blossomed my most treasured friendships and I couldn’t be more thankful for those women in my life. When I felt worthless, when my heart was broken, when I was aching and crying endlessly, these women surrounded me, loved me, encouraged me, and lifted me up to the Lord in prayer; we share this season of singleness together. We share similar life experiences and stories. We share the same struggles. We care deeply for each other because we know what we’re each going through. That leads me to the next two topics I want to encourage you with – vulnerability & connection. Vulnerability is freeing! It’s scary, but it’s brave! It takes courage, but it is a beautiful attribute to be vulnerable. To really dig deep into vulnerability and bravery, I would suggest reading some books by Brene Brown and listening to her Ted Talks – she speaks on these topics better than I ever could. One of my favorite quotes from her (which there are SO many and I love saving quotes and inspirational phrases) is, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen”. 2019 brought deeper connections into my life because of this courage to be seen for who I was on a deeper level with my girlfriends and family, and being my authentic self (with a guarded heart) to those I come across and interact with every day. Connection is a natural human thing that we seek, don’t shy away from it. In order for people to get to know us at some level, we need to open up, allow some in and those that may not have access to your inner hopes, fears and struggles, they still need to see the true you – so don’t be a fake. It takes courage many days to show up as you are ~ trust me, I’m raising my hand over here and know what that’s like… but when you do, when you show up 100% yourself, nothing can stop you, you don’t know how your life will be changed. And it just feels amazing! Why try to be someone else when everyone is made differently, don’t make it any harder on yourself than it has to be. You were created by someone who has the highest love for His creation, the God who intricately made you the person you are, your desires, your gifts, talents, thoughts – be you, boo 🙂
It was around September – October of 2019 where I began to think about how I wanted to walk into the new decade…
With intent! And so, my 2020 key word is INTENTION.
With each day going forward, I want to know why I do something, the true purpose behind my actions. Living a life where I used to act without true intentions and without having purpose is frustrating and I’m over being that person. I want to be intentional in my relationship with the Lord and faith in Him first and foremost. I want to make more of my time in everything I do – no more excuses, and instead replaced with intention in who I spend it with, how it’s spent, and being where I am at all times, not distracted but living in the moment. Intentionality about being ME! I’m throwing off the shame I once carried, I’m tossing away comparison and loving myself 🙂 I’m walking forward with courage and bravery in what’s in front of me before I even know it’s there. How? because I know the one who is ahead of me paving the way so there’s nothing to worry about. I want to be intentional with my close girlfriends – I desire to be there for them, laughing with them, crying with them, rejoicing with them. I want the love I have within me to grow deeper and learn more about what love is and what love looks like – in all areas. I want to have intention in my dating, my relationships, my job, my priorities. I want to explore more and with purpose! Finally, I simply want to be intentional in this season. I’m still single and for the first time in a long time, I’m happy, learning to be content, and thankful for this time in my life. It’s a gift and I intend to make the most of it. There’s so much to learn, there’s so much to do, people to serve, time to know who I am, to grow and prepare myself for the next season. I will thrive here and live with purpose where God has called me to be.
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.Hosea 10:12
Happiness and contentment can be found when I celebrate where I am right now.Lysa Terkeurst
… I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.Brene Brown
Did I lose anything this year? Not at all. What was meant for me, stayed, and what wasn’t meant for me has left me stronger and more thankful. I want to encourage you friend to walk forward with boldness, in faith, and with purpose. Learn what you should leave behind in order to step fully into who you were created to be. Surround yourself with people who will love you and give you the hard truth when you need it but will still be there to let you cry on their shoulder and won’t cast shame or guilt. Let go of control over things that you can do nothing about; walking in obedience and faith in God, while relinquishing control is something I learned takes a heavy burden off your back. I still fight wanting all the control, but then my trust in God is not fully there if I’m not giving the situation over to Him.
We’re a few weeks into 2020 already, so how are you going to choose to live it?