I’m a little late on the New Year’s blog post bandwagon, but sometimes you need a few extra days to get your bearings before you can send word out to the masses about your location.
Let me ask you a question. What is your approach to a new year? Do you make resolutions? Set goals?
I don’t make resolutions anymore. I don’t keep resolutions, as is evident if you look at the journal I was going to keep in my 30th year of life. The first five pages are full. The rest would appear that I vanished to that imaginary deserted island and being allowed only three objects, decided that my journal did not make the cut.
No, no more resolutions for me. For the last couple of years, I’ve chosen themes. I know. I know. You are wondering if “theme” is just a fancy word for another unkept “resolution”. Fair enough. But no, it is not. When I choose a theme, it consists of a Bible verse and a word. There are no actual actions or behaviors or habits set in stone.
The verse is usually one that I feel The Lord has given me as a promise, or an anchor. For example, my theme verse for 2014 is hanging next to my desk. Psalm 65:11, “You crown the year with bountiful harvest, even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” It’s such a beautiful promise, and one that He kept this past year, in both obvious and mysterious ways. I almost hate to change it out for my new verse because I want to just claim abundance everyday.
However, the time has come for a new theme and this year it is Zechariah 9:12, “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”
Prisoners of hope.
I love that! I chose this verse because, sometimes, we can get bogged down by the past, by mistakes and habits that we can’t seem to shake. But ultimately, we are not captives without hope. Our chains have been broken and when we rely on the Lord, He promises our joy will be fully restored. Anything the enemy has stolen from us, Our Stronghold, Our Father will restore two-fold. We tend to define ourselves, our lives, by our chains. We live into our past captivity rather than into the present and future hope of our freedom in Christ. And the truth is that it is both. As Zechariah suggests, we are not yet completely free, and yet we are. Our chains are part of our story, but our hope is our ultimate story. Good stuff, isn’t it?
On to the second part of my 2015 theme: A word. Since I recently wrote about it, you probably are not surprised that my word is “adventure”. Remember this?
Adventure is not an event. It is an attitude. It is showing up every day, watching for and entering into the risks of relationships, of unknowns. It is giving away your last $20 to someone when you aren’t sure where the next $20 will come from. It is loving your family member that doesn’t know how to receive love. Adventure is asking for help again when the last 10 times you have been burned. Being brave is holding on to the vision that The Holy Spirit has delivered to you even when the voices of logic say it’s crazy…or reckless. Adventure is stepping into difficult things.
And now, with my theme verse and word, I have a framework for the choices I will make in 2015. Am I living into the promise of Zechariah 9:12? Am I approaching each day with an adventurous heart? So, some of those resolutions I used to make… The question is no longer “How long will I last this time?” No. The question becomes, “Does my current choice fit within my framework?”
Would a prisoner of hope, an adventurer sit here and watch Netflix or would she create something, learn something? Would a brave woman who is shaking off the chains that once were shackled to her feet, wait for someone to invite her to something or would she reach out to new people, to distant friends, even to the ones who have left scars? Maybe it’s even as simple as, “Does this framework support my lack of desire to clean the kitchen? I have to check over and over again, because somedays, the answer may be, “YES! Leave the dishes and go be outside!” But most often, I’m guessing, the response I will hear from The Spirit that lives in me is, “No. I know it’s easier to be lazy. But that is not the way a woman of valor lives. And you, Erin, are a woman of valor. Put on some music, dance, and clean those plates. You are loved!” (I think The Spirit always ends conversations with “You are loved.”)
I’m not a fool. I know I will fail at times, but the framework will not. In the same way that a homebuilder assembles the framework of a house and creates a certain space for where each room will be, I have a framework for my year. The furnishings may change. The pipes might even burst, but the framework is steady.
Maybe you are fed up with resolutions too. Right on. There are no rules about how you will define your life in the new year. Maybe you need to be done with resolutions. Maybe, instead, it would work better for you to find a framework. What will it be for 2015? What promise will you cling to? What type of person will you be? And, who will remind you of these things on the hard days?
And remember, no matter what your approach, no matter how long you last or how often you fail, you are loved.