I'd like to make some improvements in 2010, but they have little to do with tangible "resolutions." They have everything to do with motivations, the stuff of the heart, the invisibles of life. The beneath-the-surface intentions that our heavenly Father knows and looks on--not the outward appearances.
A few weeks back, the husband and I were in Ohio, taking his 86-year-old father to visit two of his brothers, a sister, and a cousin. The rest of the clan are now in their 70s and 80s. When Jesse James came up in conversation and someone asked about him, I said he rode motorcycles. David's dad wasn't talking about Sandra Bullock's husband, though, he was talking about the original Jesse James. (smile!) And so goes the conversation when we visit the relatives--always reaching back into the past, dusting off memories and reliving them by talking about them, holding them up in the light as you might hold up a beautiful piece of crystal, one by one.
Alice, the sister, with her beautiful curly white hair and sparkly personality, adds vibrancy to the room, and I imagine her as the child Alice, buddying up to her brothers and floating through the days with wonder, exuberance, and joy. Her story further illustrated my impressions, as she reverted back to her childhood, when she might have been six or seven.
There were 11 kids in all, and Alice was outside of the house one day, twirling across the driveway in dramatic fashion, all the while singing with abandon. Heaven knows how long this went on, though it might have been awhile. Alice might not have noticed their next-door neighbor, Tillie, who was tilling in the garden, working the soil, in the house directly next to their driveway.
But in a flash, Alice felt sprinkles, rain even, which turned out to be their 80+ year old neighbor, turning her garden hose on Alice, hoping to stifle the incessant singing and dancing she witnessed. And for the moment, Tillie succeeded: Alice dashed into the house, probably crying by then, sharing her tale of woe.
As it turns out, Alice's brother Mickey experienced the wrath of Tillie on another occasion, when he himself became a victim of the garden hose. Tillie pretended as if nothing happened at all, but the wet spots on the pavement told another story. The neighborhood killjoy had little patience for the joy of childhood, even if they never set foot on her property, which they were extremely careful not to do.
But in the end, the bitter taste the children experienced from their next-door hose-sprayer would vanish: both Mickey and Alice have easy smiles and gracious hearts today. You can't let the killjoys ruin your happiness or steal your gumption. You've got to listen to a different voice. In the case of Alice and Mickey, it's the voice of abundant life found in John 10:10. The voice of Christ himself, which brings us the hope that allows us to stand upright, to carry on, to extend His gracious rule and relationship however we can with whomever we can.
I, myself, am determined to nix the killjoys in 2010.
- I hope for a more unselfish heart, as I ask my heavenly Father how I might please him in each and every interaction, until love, not selfishness, becomes a more ready default response.
- I desire a child to hold and to celebrate, and since God has given me this desire, I refuse to deny it, though I am in my 37th year, and it would be easy to move on and redirect my energies into a full-fledged career or something I have more control over.
- I thrill at the opportunity to discover and learn more about my heavenly Father by attending seminary, and I will continue to take classes, no matter if others think I should be elsewhere, since I answer to my Savior, and not the whims and fancies of others around me.
- I watch for God working around me, and will continue to ask Him how I might join Him in His work, even if the Holy Spirit leads me to step out of my comfort zone, and I am asked to do something that makes me uncomfortable. I pray for grace to obey, wholeheartedly, and not grudgingly.
- I pray and I want to pray more--not to satisfy a resolution, but to walk so closely with Jesus that His heart beats inside of mine, and people are drawn to Him just by observing the way He continues to overhaul my heart.
- I love my husband, and I want to love him better in 2010, to encourage and delight in him, as a picture of how God and his church are meant to relate to one another. This will inevitably mean more of dying to myself in the best possible way.
- I will teach in the new year, especially the message of freedom for women, single or married, that God lays out for His ezers in Genesis 2. I'm going to do this even though it will be unsettling for some to hear and liberating for others. I will teach the truth because God says it will set us free--and because I am called and responsible for using the gifts He has given.
- I will embark on new writing adventures in my business because writing is one of the things I do best and in which I feel most alive. If God wants to bless my efforts, I will rejoice in expanding my territory, and if He wants to bless them quietly and without fanfare, I will still do my part. I want to be faithful in the little things--excellent in all, because my work reflects my Creator.
- I will seek beauty in everyone and in every place I can in 2010, because the beauty of God's Creation is the best reminder of His otherness, His sovereignty, and His glory.
- I will not allow the killjoys of life to remove the grace, winsomeness, love, wonder, expectation, hope, or vision God is fashioning in me. Not in 2010, and with God's help, not ever.
Please post something you won't allow the killjoys of life to take from you in 2010...