2014 has been a rollercoaster year, and my memories more easily tend to the downs instead of the ups. Thirteen deaths of family and close friends, including the untimely death of my beloved son-in-law at the age of 26, have skewed my vision toward the difficult moments.
I am thankful that life is not always dark and dreary. The birth of my seventh grandchild, a beautiful little girl, and my graduation from college (at age 47 years and 11 months!) have helped to balance the scales with joyful positives. As time goes on the, the pain of the losses will become less sharp and the beauty of new life and new conquests will become the focus.
As in all circumstances, I can choose to become bitter because of heavy happenings, or I can choose to become better by learning from these experiences. My success at surviving life and its challenges thus far is pretty good, but I want to do more than just survive. I want to make a valuable difference in my life, in the lives of those around me, and in as many lives as I can possibly touch in any way. I can use the situations in my personal history to help others in their personal situations. I must remember that I am stronger because of coming through times when I was very weak.
Because I want to make a difference, I must become more intentional about how I live my life. I have three simple resolutions this year, all directly from God’s instructions. I am sharing these ideals for two reasons: by sharing my goals with others, I am held accountable for upholding my actions to these goals by many other people, creating a large support group, and by sharing my goals with others, maybe they will be spurred on to good deeds by my example.
Goal one: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ” (from the passage found in Matthew 22:34-40).
Love God, love others. How hard is that? Apparently, not as easy as four little words should be. When I pay more attention to my iPad than to my husband, am I loving others? When I lose my temper because a volunteer musician waited until Saturday to look at the music for Sunday, therefore they did not practice a new song, am I loving others, or even loving God, whom I am supposed to be worshipping through those very songs? When I am driving and another driver cuts me off so I start yelling at him or her, am I loving others?
Lord, help me love like You love, without any ifs, ands, or buts. Make my love for others be unconditional and freely given. Let my love for You shine through everything I do.
Goal two: “Do all things without complaining…” (from the passage found in Philippians 2:14).
I used to think that I did not complain much, that I was fairly easy-going, and went with the flow without much dispute. I thought that way until my husband said to me one day, “You complain an awful lot. Are you just unhappy or what?” So I stepped back and listened to myself and my words. I was surprised by just how much I grumbled when plans don’t go the way I think they should, and how critical and, yes, judgmental I could be. This is a goal I have been working toward for quite a while, and who says a resolution has to be completely new? If you still have not perfected a habit, why not keep practicing?
Lord, help me to remember that when I grumble and complain against others that I am grumbling and complaining about Your creation. I want to see to see people and circumstances as You see them, as beautiful masterpieces and opportunities for growth.
Goal three: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” (from the passage found in Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I am adopting this goal in connection with my personal calendar and activities. I often find myself wasting my time on a game for hours, while the laundry and dishes need done, or a paper needs researched and written, or I should be sleeping. I often find myself up against a deadline when I had plenty of time to complete the task. I also find myself saying “no” when I should say “yes” to an invitation, and saying “yes” when I should really say “no.”
Lord, help me to make your priorities my priorities, and help me to remember that You created a day of rest for a reason.
Finally, I would leave you with this thought: