2011 was the first year I made New Year’s resolutions. I found a template from a book I read over Christmas break last year that allowed me to make a spreadsheet of my resolutions and chart my progress. I could categorize, document, journal, and monitor my own resolution-keeping. I spent a week making my spreadsheet. I chose my reading material for the year (Resolution #4: Read 20 books that interest you), assessed my strengths (Resolution #8: choose a new hobby based on personal strengths), categorized my family and friends (Resolution #6: prioritize and invest in meaningful relationships), prepared a “purge page” (Resolution #7: create more breathing space in the rooms of my house), and made a bucket list (Resolution #1: Complete at least one life goal to check off my list). I actually had a file folder for my 2011 Resolutions and Goals and was buzzing with energy to check my spreadsheet every week, which was pinned to the bulletin board above my desk. I had subsets of smaller goals that were connected to the larger goals. I even journaled about my progress (small goal related to Resolution #1). January was exhilarating. February was a little slower, but I maintained. March was frustrating, and by April I felt like I was about to implode on myself. In May, I happily threw away my spreadsheet, ditched my journal, and regarded my “Happiness Project” an epic fail. I was sick and tired of devising ways to make myself better, happier, more comfortable, more content, more “purged of the clutter within my house and my mind.” I felt icky with self-obsession and I swore off the resolution-making.
So when the time came to think about 2012 and what this year might bring, I reminded myself of last year’s project. I resolved to make no more self-salvation, self-improvement resolutions. Instead, Kyle and I decided to simplify and each choose one word that describes our focus for 2012. I knew immediately what my word would be.
It’s the 180-degree turn from last year’s self-obsessed focus. I didn’t choose this word because I know how this works. I chose this word because I don’t know how this works and I have a deep need to learn what it means to stop the endless and exhausting work of trying to climb up. I want to know what it means to go down.
Down into the truth that I don’t need to compete, prove anything, or work hard to be better.
Down into the places where life gets chaotic, uncomfortable, and messy.
Down into the moments where my own agenda and needs might go unmet to meet the needs of someone else.
Down with people who don’t feed my self-preservation instincts, but instead, force me to step outside myself to insure their preservation.
I want to descend down into the truth that “it’s not about me.” (This is the first line of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Life…a book I read because its title spoke to my Type A, get-er-done spiritual self). But it’s not about me. And that makes me sad. Oh, how I want it to be about me, because it’s easier to think about ascending than descending. I’ve already admitted that I have a strong self-preservation instinct, which means I spend a lot of time fluffing my nest. I want to be comfortable and secure and I want people to like me and to think highly of me. I want my house clean, my clothes stylin’, my hands scrubbed, my reputation spotless, my work impressive, and my future bright.
And I’m exhausted trying to secure these things for myself. It’s time to lean over the edge and contemplate what it might mean to descend, even if the view is blurry and unpredictable.
My word for 2012 has no large goals and smaller subset goals attached to it. It doesn’t have a checklist of “10 steps to descent.” I haven’t created a spreadsheet for tracking purposes and I don’t have a designated journal in which to muse about my progress. But I’m not winging it. I have a high standard of emulation. Instead of more navel-gazing, I want to steadily focus my gaze on the One who descended first. In fact, I actually can’t do this. My need for control and my legalistic list-making, box-checking nature keep me from begin able to let go and head down. I need God to lead the descent. I’m looking up so that I can move down the rungs. Easy to say. Hard to do. But He told me that if I did all this, he would give me something I greatly need this year: rest.
So, goodbye 2011.
Let the adventure begin.