Monday, January 2, 2017

No Resolutions for the Weary: An Alternative Approach to 2017

 2017 has arrived.

It's resolution season, and normally I’m right on board. While I know that my resolutions probably won't last past February, I don’t see any harm in buckling down on self-discipline once the holidays are over and the cabin fever of late winter looms.  

However, this year, I’m going a different route.

2016 has been a busy year…. Joyfully busy for the most part, but nonetheless, busy.

When I look back on it, every year of our marriage has been increasingly busy. In five years we've gone from naïve college grads to business owners, homeowners, and parents of three. It's been great, but 2016 definitely took its toll.

Usually feats such as starting a family or business are equated with an “uphill climb,” but I’d say these past few years have been more like running down a steep hill. It’s breathtakingly fun, and you become giddy with the sensation. But as you keep running, you become a little anxious and afraid to trip up at your increasingly dizzying speed. There’s no looking back or looking around; you need to focus ahead just to keep yourself upright. Eventually, your legs tire out, but there’s no stopping. You’re no longer in control; the momentum is keeping you going. To stop, or even to slow, would surely result in reckless tumbling. It's exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

Now, at the outset of 2017, we find ourselves in a strange position. We’re settled into our home, with no major projects planned. We are no longer in the new baby adjustment period. Barring illness or potty breaks, we’ve been sleeping through the night for the last few months. For the first time in four years I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding. I’m not acquiring any new licenses or accreditations at work. The new brewpub has been running relatively smoothly. Nate has worked out the kinks with the new brew system and bottler.

We seem to have come to a valley.

We look behind us, unsure of exactly how we’ve gotten here. By the grace of God we are unscathed. Frazzled, weary, and maybe touchy, but unscathed.

It makes us uneasy, this flat place with no clear direction or immediate goals. Nate and I have always been project-oriented people. Even in high school, we both took assignments to an extreme; he could turn anything into a video project, and I could turn a one thousand word assignment into a ten-page manifesto. We love the challenge of a new goal and the satisfaction of a completed task. We’ve become adrenaline junkies.

Even if you’re not particularly goal oriented, I think everyone comes to this point now and then when you feel overwhelmed and want to take control of your life. I think it’s why in the past I’ve made resolutions: simply to have a goal on which to focus.

But I’ve changed over the past five years. I’ve realized that being in control isn’t all it’s chalked up to be. The free-fall surrender to God via diving head-first into the life He’s handed us has felt good, beyond the superficial adrenaline rush. So now that we’ve reached this valley, rather than taking over the reins, I’m going to leave them in His hands.

God willing, I do have a few plans now that there’s some slack in the reins. I guess you could call them resolutions, but I’m calling them recombobulation, reorientation, and replenishment.
1. Recombobulation

(Yeah, like post-TSA-check-in airport sign at MKE.)

On the race down the hill, we dropped a few things and let them slide. Now we find ourselves surrounded by our wayward junk (I mean that both literally and figuratively…but mostly literally!) We need to take a few months to purge junk, re-organize, file, etc. (to my in-laws: I promise your garage is on that list…)
2. Reorientation

There is nothing wrong with being goal-oriented, but as Christians, we have one Ultimate Goal: Heaven. The way to achieve that goal is through sanctification through God’s will.

As much as I’d like to push the idea of a “project-free 2017,” I know that our restless minds would have a hard time with that. The best we can do is step back and ask ourselves if our short-term goals are leading us to our Ultimate Goal.
3. Replenishment

Lastly, we need to replenish the reserves. We will need them again in the coming years. In fact, we hope we need them again for more business and family growth. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually.

We’ll hold off on any big expenditures.

I’ll keep taking my prenatal vitamin even though it’s not technically made for me anymore.

Hopefully we can replenish our Vitamin D stores this summer better than we did this past year.

We’ll make time to connect with each other and our children and develop better family routines.

The big one for me: Prayer. While I pray often while I’m driving or doing housework, I’ve struggled to carve out time for regular, purposeful prayer. Now that we have the opportunity to fall into a more regular routine, I’m planning to make the time for ten minutes of morning prayer everyday.


I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in 2017!


What resolutions have you made for the new year?

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