The Curious Problem of Resolutions

I am of two minds on the subject of resolutions. On the one hand, recognizing a problem and wanting to fix it is certainly nothing to scoff at. I admire a person’s willingness to change. On the other hand, change is seldom easy and so few people actually stick to their resolutions that they are often quite meaningless. I had three goals last year, none to which I strictly adhered. I probably did write something every day, but it was not always the kind of writing I intended. I definitely finished many books in 2012, but most of these were seminary related and hardly amount to all of the books I started in 2012. We did not keep to our “one family PT day per week” goal. We did venture out a lot more in 2012, but hardly to the extent we would have liked. This pregnancy has been hard on all of us and made that whole goal a bit impossible (perhaps after I recover from the birth of our second son, we can get back to this one because it’s incredibly important).

Three 2012 resolutions set, three 2012 resolutions that were less than resounding successes. Apparently, I’m not alone in failing to keep these resolutions. After discussions with many friends and reading the plethora of sarcastic internet memes referencing these seemingly universal failures, I have decided against declarative resolutions this year. I have purposely not even written on the subject until January 7, so powerful is the “dangerous” temptation to set such resolutions.

I have read that New Year’s resolutions are successful only when they’re specific, but such is the nature of any goal, yes? With the impending birth of our second son and my desire to return to seminary after taking just one semester off, I do not wish to set goals so broad or so many that I am doomed to failure. I keep thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be great to sit here around this time next year and write about how I accomplished a goal I set at the beginning of the year? Would that be enough to spur me toward making meaningful year-long goals and keeping them? I know not. At least several times a year, I vow to do something every day and just do not (but, if I had set a goal to get out of bed every day, take care of Weston, and put away the dishes, I’d definitely have succeeded!).

Instead of making resolutions bound for failure, I will simply make myself some promises. First, as most of you know, I am a big fan of C.S. Lewis. Much of his work has significantly shaped my theological thought process. I have a book called A Year with C.S. Lewis in which each day contains a paragraph from one of his brilliant works on religion and theology. So far in 2013, I have read one page (day) per night without ever declaring this as a resolution. It’s not a resolution, in fact, it is merely a new piece of my routine.

Second, I improved significantly in becoming a calmer person last year after the panic over finding a specialist to treat my lupus. When all of that worked out (along with some other, even more personal issues), it finally dawned on me that yes, indeed, things really do always have a way of working out. I am not sure if this came just with my age or if it is one of those lessons that does not sink in until it has been learned many times over. I certainly have not mastered the art of calm, but I have started to approach more of life in the same way that some of my favorite people do: “It will be okay.”

Recently losing a dear friend, Cindy, to cancer on Christmas Eve, helped put things into perspective. I never thought that the last time I spoke to her would be it. As I reflect on our conversations, I can smile with the knowledge that Cindy knew how much she was loved and appreciated. I am relieved to know that we never exchanged a harsh word in our years of friendship. No one expected her recent cancer battle to be such a short one and her passing helped confirm how precious each and every moment of life is. I suspect we each have different reactions to the death of a loved one, but as I went through holiday festivities, I marveled at the outpouring of love I witnessed for such a great lady. I thought to myself, “Could we not all pass on with some peace knowing we were so well loved and fondly remembered?” Reflecting on my own faults, the tendency of my brain to head to the “worry” and my inability to, in many cases, “find the fun” (and I take a beat here to smile thinking of how Cindy would delight at my quoting Faith) leaves me hoping to improve upon these traits. I am never going to be a social butterfly and I am, often, quite a serious person. These are probably not things that will change in any appreciable way, yet I think I could do with some calm and find some peace and, yes, a little more FUN, in something beyond the mundanities of life.

I wish much luck and success to all of those who have actually set resolutions in 2013! May you accomplish your 2013 goals. As for me, I am going to continue to focus on short-term, attainable goals and hope to write to you next year a calmer person, having read all of A Year with C.S. Lewis, and “found the fun” more frequently than not. Of course, a little wine a time or two a week after the new baby’s born may help with at least two of those goals, particularly if I wish to maintain my sanity while raising two boys as a military wife and finishing seminary, eh?

Blessings to all in 2013!

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