New Year’s Resolutions Reversed

On a rare evening out together a few weeks ago, Will and I took the chance to discuss some of the challenges we are facing and how to adjust our lives to better fit our calling. We made some goals for the new year, and talked about how we might go about accomplishing them.

As we were eating our steak, I suddenly put down my fork. “You know,” I said, “I feel like every single area of my life needs to change. It’s depressing.” After a minute of silence, I added, “What have we done well in the past year?”

I love to dream of the future, and I always dream of improving myself, my circumstances, and my surroundings. I believe in dreaming and goal-setting, but that evening I realized that my dreaming sometimes stems from an inner sense of failure. I mean, is there anything that I do that doesn’t need to be improved?

The ever popular New Year’s Resolutions may not always be based so much on excitement for the year ahead as they are salving that internal disappointment and discontent I feel with myself.

By this I don’t mean that dreaming is erroneous. I can hardly be effective if I have no goal, or at least some presiding values. But it’s hard to wean myself of a pride characterized by a crippling self-judgment.

But if “in Him we live and move and have our being,” (Acts 17:28) I can’t possibly have done everything wrong.

Will you join me in a little challenge? Can you name things that you did the past year that you feel good about? Can you name them without adding any caveats?

If you are self-deprecating like me, an exercise like this is very hard. I’ll go first, then I invite you to add your thoughts in the comments. You may describe what was hard for you, but you may not add any explanations of what you didn’t do right.

Here goes.

I am glad that in 2017 Will and I took classes and pushed through all the paperwork and inspections to become a licensed foster family. Having a foster child in our home is a great blessing to us, and I know we brought her a place where she is safe and loved.

In 2017, I homeschooled my children even though I have a special-needs child and teaching school is not natural for me. I gave my children a good education as well as the chance to be close to their mama every day. I taught them important Christian values and life skills.

I cooked nourishing food for my family in 2017. My heart was happy when I had a nice meal on the table and my favorite people all around enjoying the food and conversation.

In 2017, I opened my home to others even when it wasn’t convenient. I played with neighbor children and added an extra plate or three to our table many times. I enjoyed taking time to listen to people, young or old, who needed a listening ear.

Whew. Leaving out the caveats is hard. Of course you know I did these things only with God’s help, right? 😉 Your turn now. What did you do well in 2017?


19 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions Reversed

  1. joyfulhopeflokstra

    I love this! Emily Freeman, on her blog, wrote a post about 2017 where she talked about what had worked well for her and what hadn’t. It felt like a healthy way to close down a year and prepare for a new one.

    I got up regularly with my alarm clock and had a morning schedule that worked for me. And it allowed me to read the entire Bible in a year.

    I poured my heart and mind into preparing a talk for a women’s retreat.
    I learned to understand and connect better with my children.

    I stayed connected to a friend in a new venture when I could have been intimidated or jealous.


    1. I like the idea of looking at what worked and what didn’t. It’s too easy for me to focus only on the things that didn’t go so well.

      Getting up to spend time with God, speaking at a women’s retreat, and staying connected through a vulnerable time–those are all admirable accomplishments! Well done!

      (I’d like to hear you speak at a women’s retreat. 😉 )


  2. I feel like 2017 was a banner year for me. A year of change and changes, a year of doing new things:

    * I went to two life-changing youth conferences—for the first time in my life.

    * I made a long-overdue career change and am now in a much better place financially.

    * I moved out of my parents’ home and am now on my own.

    * Overall, I feel much more mature, closer to God, and more independent than a year ago.

    Looking forward to 2018!


  3. Louisa

    I dared to
    – change places of employment
    – change churches
    – start counseling.
    All important changes, and all have bettered me in some way or another.


  4. jane

    #1. I ventured outside my comfort zone, sharing hospitality. Which in turn led to a door being opened. A dream I didn’t realize I harbored, stepped through the door. Writing…..
    #2. I chose to ask for the help we needed for our child, walking through a dark valley. God is faithful!


  5. Dorcas Byler

    I have connected with an 11 year old boy in one of our local public schools tutoring him in reading.
    I have found a lot of fulfillment in working at a crisis pregnancy center.
    My Airbnb has been successful and an answer to prayer.
    I have not used a credit card except for a time or two when I had loaned my debit card out to a family member and forgotten it had not been returned.


    1. It sounds like you lead a worthwhile and fulfilled life! And good job on not using the credit card! 🙂 Will and I quit using a credit card about ten years ago and don’t miss it a bit.


  6. RachelG

    As you know, the last 15 months have been traumatic for us.

    We went to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
    We heard nothing but silence
    and we found out that our baby had died.
    Then my Grandma died.
    A new baby of ours, one too tiny to bury, died.
    My “big sister” from church died from cancer.
    My friend was killed in a car accident.
    I gave life to a baby girl
    and we saw her heartbeat on an ultrasound
    Hope surged
    she died, too, and we buried her next to her sibling
    under my favorite tree.
    We made an excruciatingly painful decision,
    one that carries its own loss forever.
    I lived 2017 as a shattered woman.

    In 2017 I grieved well. A friend of mine, a trained grief counselor, took me out for lunch and after she had seen my tears and heard my questions and felt my depression and anger she said, “You are grieving really well”.

    In 2017 I cared for myself. I wrote in my journal. I talked to God often and read His Word. I created a space for my tears. I joined an Infant Loss Support Group. I started my second year of volunteering with a Children’s Grief Support Group. I cooked nourishing food. I started walking 10 miles per week.

    In 2017 I created happy memories for my three living children and I was emotionally present with them. We went camping for a whole weekend. We went to the Children’s Museum. We celebrated my son’s first piano recital. We laughed and cried and talked about everything.

    Thank you for inviting our comments. Thinking about the things I did well was humbling, because it helped me to recognize where the abundant grace and presence of Jesus was in my dark year.


  7. LRM

    In preparation for moving, I gave away many things (a big free garage sale, donating to a thrift store…), recycled many other things, and threw away other things. I need to do more of it, but I am giving myself time to do it, rather than thinking it all has to be done now. LRM


  8. Beth Slabaugh

    I enjoyed reading your post…it was encouraging to think on the positive note instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the mistakes!
    My husband and I and two little girls are serving in S.E. Asia.
    This year, I took on extra language classes and sent our three year old to a local Christian preschool ( a stretch of my trust!!) to help us be able to communicate more here.
    I pursued friendships even though they still feel awkward when I run out of language to express myself.
    Opened our home numerous times to guests.
    Went on exploratory trips with the consideration of moving to more intense locations with our family.
    Made decisions to get outside when feeling depressed.


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