Tag Archive | goals

An Unglamorous Word

I wrote a post this week sort of tearing down the American idea of goals and resolutions, or at least questioning it. And now I’m going to participate in one of those very things. So, bear with me. I might not always make much sense.

A lot of people like to choose a word for the year. I wasn’t going to do that this year. I was simply going to let this year happen without a specific word or thought or Bible verse guiding me. Not that I’m opposed to that idea–I often do it myself. Last year my verse was Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

This year, the word came to me in the middle of the night, a long night when I was feeling sick because diabetes and I were warring, and I was losing. I felt terrible. And while I was awake, I was worrying. About where to live. What to do with a few hard relationships. Aching for lost family members. And all the while, feeling that somehow I needed to fix all of it, that if I was just better/smarter/kinder/wiser, everything and everyone in my world would be happy, God-loving, and ready for anything.

I didn’t get a magical, beautiful word. I’ve had friends choose lovely words like Pursued, Loved, Princess. Nope. Mine isn’t like that. I’ve seen people’s words become the tip of an iceburg of change. But my word didn’t seem to be a life-changing word. It’s just a word. Maybe it was just in my head because I was sick and miserable. But I suspect it’s deeper. And although it’s at the bottom of the list of glamorous words, for this year it’s mine.

Regardless. Yep. That’s it. Regardless. On its own, it’s not much. You might need a little context, so here it is.

In school, I was an A student. It’s a great way to win approval. As an adult, winning approval comes through different means. A good job, well behaved kids, important church positions. All of us work to do well in things that we do. And knowing we’re succeeding–tell me it doesn’t feel good.

God doesn’t hate us for doing a thing well. He says those who are faithful with little will be given much. It’s okay to be successful at something. It’s okay to work hard as though working for God Himself, because we’re working for God Himself.

And yet, God then turns around and offers us life and love for no reason at all. And lately I’ve been struggling with that one. It goes against all the rules. All I have to do is…nothing. And God can love me. I find over and over and over that I try to be worthy in some way or another. And when I fail, I worry. Maybe He’s not going to want me now. I failed. I wish I could change things about my decisions, my parenting, just about every aspect of my life. I would do better. I really would.

Then in Romans 5:8 Paul writes But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Or put it another way: Jill, regardless of anything you’ve said or done, any failure or success or judgment, I love you. My son died for you when you were a hot mess, because I love you just that much.

Regardless. He doesn’t regard any of it, not when He determines to love me. It sounds like total nonsense, but there it is, not nonsense at all.

I think I’ve posted a million times how much I want to believe this. And I do, but I don’t live like I do. I don’t act like I do. So. Maybe this year I can make this word and this verse and this thought my mantra. He loves me regardless. In spite of myself, He loves me. Before I ever did one thing right, Jesus died for me.

Regardless. That’s how God loves me. I don’t get it. I  don’t always live it. But at the same time, I’m staking everything on its truth, because try as I might, I sure can’t get to Him and secure His love on my own. I fail every single time. Maybe this will be the year I will finally relax and trust and stop trying.

On Failing 2017 Ten Hours In

file0001417654154(My musings at 10 am New Year’s Day.) It’s that time of year again. January shows up, and we infuse everything with special meaning. Time to wipe the slate clean, start new, make goals. And I admit some years I do exactly that. I take January 1 to have some kind of mythical, spiritual power, and if I treat it right, I can secure happiness and joy for the next 364 days.

Except this year it started wrong. January 1 is a Sunday, and my family is skipping church. I had a terrible blood sugar night, and I felt nauseated all night, and I can’t make myself leave the house yet, not without feeling icky. And my husband, who’s been fighting something for weeks, is asleep. This is miraculous, and no way am I going to wake him up. Unless the house is burning down or zombies come, I’m not messing with him.

Also, we’ve been packing and house hunting, and I haven’t given even five seconds of thought to the year ahead. Nothing. Currently I’m living a life unexamined and unplanned, simply moving one day to the next.

So. Does this mean my year is shot? Have I started a trend that will bring down our family before the year is over? I doubt it.

God likes rhythm. Seasons, days, years–He made those. He gives us rhythms of work and rest. Ecclesiastes points out the rhythms of life more than most, with times to heal and kill and grow and reap. So there’s something to be said for awareness of the rhythms of the world around us, of aging times and growing times and all those other times. And it makes sense that the first of the year is a great time to reflect and think and look to the future.

But this is America. We’re the place that takes good things and goes crazy with them. I don’t believe a bad Monday means the week will be ruined. Or a bad morning kills the whole day. I’ve never been good at goals, not like those people who have everything planned, specific and measured and weighed. Seems God can take my bad Mondays and finish with an amazing Friday. A harsh winter can lead to a mild summer. And a goal–He seems to delight in upending my goals and substituting His own, and usually they look like chaos until that final moment when it all comes together and something beautiful happens.

If you have no goals this January, it’s okay. I have one. We sold our house a few weeks ago, and we haven’t bought another one. So my goal in 2017 is to end it not homeless. Pretty basic goal. I don’t have any specific spiritual goals, because last year I failed. I think I’ll just read the Bible and ask God to put together some direction and goals. I want to sell more books, and I have a few goals there, but honestly what I think will work always falls short, and things I never even considered will suddenly encourage people to buy for reasons that make no sense to me.

Sure, it’s good to have goals. The Bible talks about planning before doing. But I think this year my goals will be small. They’ll be flexible. They’ll be general. And while I wait for Him to put meat on the bones of my hopes and dreams and goals, I want to learn patience and trust. Trust most of all. Sometimes goals are a way of avoiding trusting God. At least they are for me. I struggle to trust God more than any other struggle. So maybe I do have a spiritual goal, but I haven’t the slightest clue how to make that happen. No actionable steps (ooh, I struggle with that word.) Just a vague notion that I’m failing and only He can bring victory. Clearly I won’t be writing a seminar on setting goals this year.

Okay, God, your work is cut out for you. Be my goals. Be my plans. And all You wish to do for and through me–do all of it for and through me.