Did you make any new year’s resolutions this year? We’re a little over 1 month into 2016, and according to Statistic Brain Research Institute, 36% of all resolutions have already been ditched.
I’m personally not a big fan of new year’s resolutions. In general I find them to be lofty goals, like lose weight or quit smoking, at which you can either succeed or fail, with little room for anything in between. I am, however, in favor of trying to be my best self…the self God created me to be. The older I get the more I find that my journey to personal betterment has more to do with letting go of worldly tendencies and self-destructive behavior, so that I can make room for the truth of God’s promises. This is not a pass or fail exercise, it is rather a continuation of my journey to live a life of joy and freedom.
Here is my list of 16 things to give up in 2016:
- Trying to do it all by myself – or as I sometimes refer to it, the “I got this” syndrome. It’s my default setting. Whatever comes my way, my initial response is “I got this.” But the problem is, trying to do it all alone is, well, lonely. And sometimes overwhelming. And almost always not what God intended for me.”For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘fear not, I am the one who helps you’.” – Isaiah 41:13
- The illness of busy-ness – A typical conversation with just about any friend or family member: Them: “So, how are things going with you?” Me: “Oh, you know, the usual. Busy!” And it’s the truth. We always seem to be busy…my husband and I juggle full-time jobs, three active kids, leading a small group, church commitments, family and friend relationships, house projects, and occasionally try to squeeze in some favorite hobbies and past-times.In the last year we have been intentional about trying to reduce the amount of commitments in our schedule, but I will tell you we still have room for improvement here. It takes a real effort to say “no” to the wrong things and “yes” to the right things. Even if the right thing is a Sunday afternoon napping on the couch.
- Self-doubt – I don’t think this one requires much explanation. but if you’re a chronic self-doubter, like I am, the good news is when we doubt our own abilities, we can turn to Jesus, who said: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
- Not getting enough sleep – Probably the single worst bit of self-sabotage I inflict upon myself is not getting enough rest. And I know better. It’s critical to our mental, physical, and spiritual health to be well rested. So giving up the late nights is going to be a priority for me in 2016!”It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” – Psalm 127:2
- Resentment – Oh boy, am I really admitting this out loud? I have a problem with holding on to resentment. It’s usually over little things — washing dishes my children forgot to put in the dishwasher, folding laundry while my husband falls asleep on the couch, compromises I didn’t really want to make — and often I don’t even realize I’m doing it. But it starts as a little seed and then grows into a heavy stone in the pit of my stomach, causing me to either withdraw from the ones I love, or get angry with them. This is not healthy for me nor my relationships!
- Rushing to everything – My family is perpetually 10-15 minutes late. It seems no matter how early we start, or how much warning we give our children, something happens — a lost shoe, bad hair day, cat vomit, etc. — to delay us. And I HATE being late and feeling rushed! I turn into mean-mommy and start yelling and it makes everyone miserable.While I don’t know that there is a full-proof way to avoid all of those things that slow us down (cats will inevitably vomit at the worst possible moment), I do know that doing less will result in more margin, and more margin comes with less rushing from place-to-place. That, coupled with a hearty dose of keeping things in perspective (is it really the end of the world if we are 10 minutes late to that event?) will hopefully help me ease up on the rush and accompanying stress.
- Time sucks – This definitely goes with number 6 and the idea of creating more margin. But to me it’s not just about doing less, it’s about doing less of the meaningless, and creating space for the meaningful. Not turning on the TV in the evening guarantees I won’t get sucked into a show and stay up too late. Not opening the laptop or picking up my phone, means not getting sucked into Facebook or Instagram. I don’t think I’m alone when I say the FOMO syndrome that makes us feel the need to stay connected 24×7 is sucking up too much precious time! Time better spent playing with my kids, sleeping (see #4), reading the Word, praying, or talking to my husband.
- Waiting to pray – this one is somewhat connected to item one. In my attempt to try and take care of everything on my own and juggle everything, I often forget to seek God’s guidance for things in my life until they get really messy. I strive to live a life where praying before and over each decision or area of life is my go-to move.”Do not be anxious about anything , but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
- Complaining – Are you familiar with the app Time Hop? Basically it connects to your social media accounts and then every day sends you a screen shot of what you posted 1, 2, 5, or however many years ago. Having kids, I enjoy this because it can be a nice reminder of how small they were only a few short years ago. But as I started reading these posts of Facebook past, I realized I like to complain. A lot. Seriously, if I read one more “oh it’s been such a long day, work is so hard, blah, blah, blah” post, I will block myself from my news feed!This little bit of personal insight has really motivated me to start changing my tune. Not only do I suspect people are tired of hearing it, but the more we complain and focus on the bad stuff, the harder it is to look for the good stuff. And there is always good, if we choose to look for it.
- Putting on a brave face – Can we all just agree to stop pretending everything about our lives and our families is happy and perfect and clean? I mean, not only is this not authentic, but it actually prevents us from developing deeper connections and relationships by not being honest and open with our friends and family. I realize this might seem like I’m contradicting myself after reading number nine, but I do think there is a balance between always complaining about life, and being willing to answer truthfully when someone says, “how are you today?”
- Wanting to change the past – Oh gosh, do I ever need to let this one go! I kid you not, I will lie awake at night re-hashing conversations that took place 10 years ago, wishing I could have done or said something differently. Really? What a waste of energy. I cannot change the past. I can always apologize for things I said and did and, often, I can confront someone who hurt me and tell them how it made me feel. But none of that will change what happened.”Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” – Isaiah 43:18
- Wanting to change others – Can I just say, writing this list is starting to hurt a little bit? I don’t really like publicly admitting all of the things I need to work on. But the good news I can make changes in my life to correct these unhealthy behaviors. What I can’t do is make other people change theirs. And just like with number 11, agonizing over it, wishing it, obsessing over it is a waste of time.God can change people’s hearts, I can’t. And truthfully, I am not qualified to diagnose what is wrong with everyone else (except when it comes to my children’s personal hygiene habits. I will diagnose unbrushed teeth all the live long day).
- Preconceived notions – Oh boy, if I had a dollar for every time I ended up disappointed due to false, preconceived ideas of how someone or something should turn out…well let’s just say I wouldn’t be wearing shoes from Payless. I do this a lot around holidays and big events. I get these big ideas in my head of what the day will be like, fantasizing about how perfect it will all be. Then the slightest mishap or conflict will send my Utopian bubble a-bursting.In my heart, I know this comes back to the idea that I struggle with just letting go and trusting God. How different would holidays and special events look if I just walked toward each one thinking “whatever you want for me to learn, to experience, and to feel today God, I praise you in advance, and look forward to this day”?
- The comparison trap – Related to numbers 3 and 10, the comparison trap is just that — a trap. It captures your joy by making you think that you are less than that woman or family over there. When the truth is, you probably don’t see the real them anyway. And even if you do, what God has designed for another, is not what He’s designed for you. But that doesn’t make what you have any less. I need to do a better job of remembering this, especially when watching HGTV.
- Guilt – Oh guilt…my old nemesis. I am so over you! The mommy guilt, the wife guilt, the friend guilt, the daughter guilt, the employee guilt — enough already. We are parting ways in 2016.”There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
- Waiting for Godot syndrome – Remember reading Waiting for Godot in high school? Just in case you forgot, it’s a play by Samuel Beckett about these two guys named Vladimir and Estragon who spend the entire play waiting in vain for someone named Godot. Poor Vlad and Estra are not happy people and in the end as they realize that each day pretty much plays out the same way: waiting for something that never comes.How much time have you and I spent waiting for something important, something big to come that would change our lives, or fix everything that we don’t like? “Once I get that promotion” or “as soon as the kids are all in school” then life will get better/easier/etc. The problem with this frame of mind is that we end up constantly looking ahead to when we can be happy, instead of just being happy right now in this very moment. And often that “thing” we keep waiting for never comes. Or when it does we are painfully let down because the truth is that “thing” cannot make our lives whole. Only God can do that.
Do any of these ring true for you? What else are you giving up in 2016 to live a life of joy and freedom?