My husband and I were chatting the other day about New Year's Resolutions. It's been the topic of everything from radio shows to magazine articles to blog posts to...well, you get the idea. W said he thought a New Year's resolution was kind of silly, he thinks we should have resolutions and make changes all year long. I said I agreed, but that I also think there's something motivating about a fresh start. Although it can also be an excuse to put off making changes, "Oh, yeah, I'm starting my diet TOMORROW." "AFTER New Year's I'm going to start doing the dishes."
There's a blog I follow called The Lettered Cottage, if you haven't read it you should check it out. Anyway, this week Layla posted about choosing a word for the year. Not really a "resolution" so much as an idea or an inspiration or a reminder. It seemed to me in glancing through the links over at Lettered Cottage, that most of the words that people chose were verbs relating to attitudes and outlooks on life.
Words are powerful. They can be truly hurtful or incredibly encouraging. They can tear people down or bolster their confidence. They can make a marriage stronger or destroy it. Prayer (through the work of the Holy Spirit) has power to change us, it humbles our hearts and teaches us to lean on the Father and it's a way for us to come into the presence of God and pour out our hearts in supplication for hurting or sick friends, family or strangers. Words are a gift and we need to take care not to wield them like weapons or use them to make excuses.
One of my favorite books in the world is Rachel Jankovic's, Loving the Little Years. If you are a Mama raising babies and toddlers it is an absolute must-read! There's a section in this book where Rachel writes about having a one year old, a two year old and newborn twins all at the same time (gives me some perspective with my single 19 month old). She describes the craziness and how incredibly hard it was. She goes on to say that during this time (changing diapers for 4 and nursing 2), she caught herself using the word "overwhelmed" several times a day-in answer to questions about how she was doing and also to herself. I'm sure that no one observing her life would have called her nuts or selfish for feeling "overwhelmed," but Rachel said she realized that in a way she was throwing herself a pity party. She decided to cut that word out of her vocabulary, to dive into this hectic life that God had given her and tackle the work cheerfully. She replaced a negative word in her life with something positive and she said that there was a palpable change for the better in their household after her change of attitude.
We all do this with words. "I'm just worn out" or "I'm so stressed right now." These may be the truest words ever spoken, but maybe they shouldn't be spoken. Maybe take out these negative words and replace them with something positive. I know this is something I need to do on a daily basis. When my husband walks in and asks how my day was I often say "It was a LONG day." The unspoken insinuation being that it was very full of unpleasantness, too much to handle and I had to do lots of things I didn't want to do and the toddler ran me ragged (or didn't take a nap or shredded a whole roll of toilet paper or learned to climb on the dining room table or dropped an electric razor in the toilet...the list is endless). I'm going to start thinking of my days as "abundant" instead of burdened and long. I am abundantly blessed with work, abundantly blessed with friends and family and an awesome 19 month old and the best, kindest husband in the world.
I don't mean that I'm going to (or that I think anyone should) adopt a weird, sappy, sweet demeanor that just ignores hard, unpleasant, real-life stuff, but an attitude that says "I'm not going to dwell on the bad, I'm going to appreciate and revel in what I have." Imagine how great it would be if in 2012, everytime you start to say, "I'm so stressed, " you say "I am so blessed" or you think "I'm so annoyed" but instead you say "I'm overjoyed." It might seem a bit over-the-top at first, particularly if you start speaking in rhymes, but it could be a good reminder to chalk up all the many reasons you have to be thankful and give some perspective on the one or two that you may have to be legitimately stressed, annoyed or overwhelmed about.
Have an abundant year, everybody!