Even though it’s almost February (!), in typical fashion I have procrastinated making New Year’s Resolutions and am finally getting around to them! It was somewhat difficult, because last year, I was relatively comfortable health wise, spiritually, and physically. I didn’t see the need to make many changes. But this year, I have grown to realize that there’s always room to strive to be better and to further glorify God.
Resolutions by themselves are sometimes looked down upon, though, because they can be viewed as lofty goals which can subconsciously encourage early failure and then disappointment. Keeping that in mind, I have chosen to instead pick several words that resonate strongly with me, staying accountable throughout the year to internalize and unpack these words thoroughly.
Here are the words:
Engaged, Reflective, & Compassionate.
More than anything else this year, I want to be fully present in whatever activity I’m doing at the moment. Someone very wise once quipped “Work hard, play hard,” and the missionary Jim Eliot once said, “Wherever you all, be all there.” Both of these quotes imply that it’s important to dedicate all of your being to what you happen to be doing. Practically, that means killing the virus of distraction in life until it’s gone. It’s so easy to be distracted in today’s society because our attention spans have dwindled with the increase of technology in every area of life.
This semester, when I’m in the library doing homework, I want to have the power to put away my phone and study hard. Every time. When I’m eating lunch with friends or chatting with my roommate, I want to listen carefully to what they’re saying and not be thinking about petty things like my next class or if my shirt matches my boots. Every time. I want to multitask less and just do things more efficiently. Every time. I want to be engaged with others, engaged in class, and engaged fully in whatever summer job I end up with. Our time is a gift from God, and we all need to use it wisely.
I chose this word because it conveys two very important meanings: to reflect something or someone (like a mirror), and to reflect upon ideas that have had an impact. This year, I want to reflect God like a mirror. I want others to look at me and praise God as a reflection of the Lord I claim to follow. If God is all he claims to be in the Bible, then He deserves our entire lives and eternal worship. I want others to see God by what I do or don’t do and my lifestyle. To be honest, this is an area of life that will be difficult, for there’s going to be some activities that will have to go and others that will have to be added. But it’s out of love for God and a true desire for others to be pointed to Him.
In another sense, I want to strive to be more internally focused this year and not afraid of my own thoughts. Freshman year, I was so fixated on constantly being with as many people as possible that I began to be genuinely scared of being by myself even for short periods of time. I have recognized that while a love of being with others is a great thing, having a fear of being alone isn’t healthy. Replacing your own thoughts and reflections with constant social stimulation will only lead to dissatisfaction later on. I want to reflect & meditate on God and not be afraid to wrestle with difficult ideas.
Finally, this year I want to have increased compassion for others that comes directly out of a love for God. I want to intentionally be patient with others and an engaged listener, someone that cares about others and remembers little details about their lives. Truly kind people have some similar traits: they don’t talk badly about others, they stand up for those who are judged thoughtlessly, and they fight against subconscious discrimination to be comfortable being with all different types of people. In a practical sense, I want to be 1) considerate of other’s feelings and a loyal friend, and 2) stand up for the less fortunate. After eternity, people’s souls are the only thing that matter, so I plan for this year to be a time of intentional compassion for others.
Accountability for the New Year
Every week of 2016, I am going to consider ways that I was engaged, reflective, and considerate and write them down. Once a month, I will jot down the biggest ways I fulfilled those words during the month and consider ways I might accomplish them the next month. With God’s power, those three words will all integrate and intersect with one another—for I want my own reflections to spill over into compassionate engagement with others.
Thanks so much for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts below, or if this inspired you to choose your own words for this New Year!