‘Tis the season…

…for everyone to get all mushy-gushy (or incredibly irritable) about the year behind us and hopeful for the year ahead…only for all of it to be forgotten within a month or less.

So what about your New Year’s resolution from last year? Did you keep it? For the first time in my life, I’ve stuck to the one that I set: no pop (or soda, for you weirdos) for a year. I started on January 7 last year and I’m on track to actually hit it here in about a week. Granted, I drank half of a Sprite a few weeks ago BUT it wasn’t because I slipped up and couldn’t handle the pressure. I didn’t want to drink it, but one of my sweetheart D-group girls knew I was sick and brought one to me, so I of course had to recognize her gesture. Other than that, I’ve stuck to everything except the life-zapping liquid that so many people drink by the gallon every week.

So what was the point? Well, ideally I was supposed to become Victoria’s Secret model-hot by now, but I think I’ve actually gained more weight than I was gearing up to lose at this time last year. Whoops. Okay, actually my goal was to just be healthier. I was doing wonderful until Spring Break hit for Chorale tour and our only option for sustenance was McDonald’s when we made stops. My resolution this year is along the same lines, but a little different so it’s more attainable. Whatever number of the month it is, I will make at least that many healthy decisions every day. So, since it’ll be January, and that’s the first month, I will make at least one healthy decision every day that helps me lead a healthier lifestyle. I’ll make two a day come February, three in March, four in April, and so on. Should it be difficult to make one a day? No, but before you criticize, ask yourself how many of your resolutions you’ve stuck to. That’s the trick: you can’t tackle the world in the first week. Make your resolutions realistic, but they need to challenge you, too. I’ll give myself the first month to do my own sort of cleanse & then I’ll start back on Advocare around February & work my caboose off (hopefully literally) to hit my goals.

Enough of that. What about the year behind, that will be over in approximately twelve hours?

To it I say, good riddance! Overall, it’s been a year of tough lessons. Intrinsically, that’s wonderful because I’ve learned a lot (or…fought against learning a lot..I’ve been really stubborn all year, too), but on the surface it’s been rough. Amber & I lost our house we were renting because of someone else’s lack of preparation and maturity, I’ve been working between 4-5 jobs for months because of this economy, I’ve been rejected from numerous jobs after being told I was one of the strongest or THE strongest candidate for the position, I was in a great relationship and that ended, I’m having to work ridiculous hours just to pay loans (I will NOT defer them or back off the payments) and bills, I have no close circle of friends here who I hang out with (Amber & I work all the time. We’ve hung out about twice in the past four months), I really don’t like living at home just because I’m sick of not being independent, to say that my walk with God is shaky is a massive understatement – or overstatement – depending on how you look at it, I have no idea what the hell (sorry – just being honest) I’m doing with my life or where it’s going, blah blah blah – the same complaints every 20-something has. But I will say that it’s been hard to have no social circle, no relationship, no support from my family emotionally or spiritually (let’s just be honest), and very little support even from my church for nearly nine months now (Sterling is a family-focused church, and I’m experiencing all of this ALL at once. THAT’S what’s hard. I’m not dealing with one or two – it’s everything all at once. At my church, there’s little to no attention given to those who are single and have no kids. We’re out in No Man’s Land because we’re the minority, which I guess I understand. I don’t really believe in the majority catering to the minority). Basically what it comes down to is me feeling like I’m trying to navigate life alone and it’s finally getting to me. Ever been there?

I will say this year brought some cool moments, though: I graduated college, became certified by the NRA to teach pistol courses, went on the best tour from my college years down in Florida with a group that’s near & dear to my heart & always will be, had some new experiences, had one of the best and most memorable birthdays to date, started working as a sponsor with the teens in the youth group I grew up in, learned the value of busting your rear end day in & day out, went on some missions trips, and who could forget the moment I was hit on by swingers. I mean really, that tops everything. Just when you thought you’d heard it all… ;)

I’m hoping 2014 brings me a lot of opportunities to trust God more. I know it will. This year brought a lot of that, but I don’t think I trusted Him in many of them. I want to be more consistent as a person and someone who says she follows Christ not just for my own sake, but for those around me. My faith isn’t just about me – it’s about the world I live in and the people I do life with day in and day out as well. I think that’s something that we’ve missed quite a bit in the church. Even if I do all of the right things, volunteer for everything and help out in every way I can, even if I try to be a “good person” (whatever that is), none of it matters if, at the end of the day, I don’t live knowing and rejoicing in the love that God has for me, even in my sorry, pathetic, and my sometimes sin-driven state. The reality is there’s an ebb and flow with following Christ. Take a look at Israel. If you think you can come to a point where you no longer sin in any way, or even just intentionally, I’d encourage you to read the Old Testament and look at Israel, and then read a little bit of Paul. “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6. Great point. But when I read his words in 2 Corinthians 12 –

“In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

– or in Romans 7 –

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do not do what I want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

 

– I’m reminded that I probably won’t get everything, or much of anything, totally right. I’m not justifying sin. I’m saying that we’re on this path of consistently doing what our Father does, just as a little kid mimics his own dad, but we aren’t our dads, and we aren’t our heavenly Father, therefore we’re probably going to need him to help us out along the way and offer grace – just as our own dads should. If you say you trust God with things like supplying your every day needs, your “daily bread,” then why not trust him with your sin? We’re coming up on a new year. Let go. Let go for your sake, and those around you, and “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

Happy New Year.

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