Christmas decorations tend to linger around our house until Ash Wednesday. I’m always reluctant to sweep them away too quickly after December 25th. After all, there are twelve days of Christmas—it’s a season not a day. Certainly any decorations associated with the Three Kings have their place in our home through Epiphany.
Those who know me well will tell you that once I’m done with something, I’m done with it. Off to Goodwill go clothes I’m not wearing anymore. Out goes leftover food that hasn’t been touched. Half drunk glasses of water go into the dishwasher. Time to move on. I’m not sentimental about things in the rearview mirror.
But I’m not like that with Christmas. Perhaps I’m too much of a church-geek, but for me the period from Advent to Easter is about preparing for the main event: the resurrection. For me that is the new beginning, not New Year’s Day. Our home is aligned with the liturgical calendar, not the secular one.
And yet the secular culture and our unending quest for self-improvement put a lot of pressure on one to come up with New Year’s resolutions. The question I ask myself when thinking about resolutions is “What kind of person does God want me to become?”
So, here goes. God wants me to become the kind of person who:
- Writes in his own voice. I write a lot in my work, but that writing tends to be about advancing organizational goals: memos, letters, proposals, etc. I like that writing, but it’s not about finding my own voice. What is God calling me to say? This past summer I resolved to try and write in my own voice once a week for this blog for a year. I’m halfway through.
- Forgives imperfection. I’m not good at this—for myself—but also for those around me. I don’t think God is looking for total consistency or perfection. That doesn’t mean not always trying to do one’s best, but it does mean being forgiving when one doesn’t. Acknowledge when one falls short. Figure out why and resolve to do better.
- Listens deeply. My general practice upon arriving in a hotel room or when I get on an exercise machine has been (until November 2016) to tune into cable TV and find out what’s going on. I soon realized that was making me anxious. Too much shouting. Not enough thinking. No listening. I’m interested in understanding the views of people who think differently than I do, but I’m not interested in being shouted at. And, I presume they feel similarly. So no more cable TV (of any political persuasion). More careful listening and thoughtful conversation.
These are, admittedly, modest efforts and frankly none of them are new for 2018. They really aren’t resolutions. Just recommitments. Perhaps if I can do these three things with a little bit more intentionality in 2018, I can become the kind of person that God wants me to be.