Out with the Old, in with the New

I know that today is actually the 2nd, but yesterday was the last day with all the family home and I didn’t feel like thinking too hard. Today is a taste of the return of routine as Steve is back at work, although the boys have one last day of freedom before returning to school. So, in the quiet of the morning today is a good chance to welcome 2012.

I was thinking a bit about New Year’s resolutions and why they are so hard, and something struck me. Maybe it will resound with you as well.

New Year’s Resolutions are difficult because they cause us to look back over the previous year and see all that was wrong. The end of the year reminds me that I am not physically who I would like to be; I would like to lose some weight. The end of the year reminds me that I am not spiritually who I would like to be; I have not developed yet the disciplines that I would like to have as habit. The end of the year reminds me that I am not in character who I would like to be; I yell at my children more than I would like and judge people I barely know more than I should.

Those are not easy things, and to write up a list of resolutions…lose weight, read the Bible more, be kinder….is a simplified acknowledgement that I am not who I would like to be.

It is easy to laugh off the resolutions, or to make some that are simply unachievable, but maybe it is just the fact that the house is quiet and the coffee is good this morning…but I thought I’d let this end of 2011 and welcoming of 2012 hit me a little more fully today.

As I sit and have my Bible open to Genesis to start the chronological one year reading I am struck by three things that mark who I am, and who I have consistently been.

Selfish. Arrogant. Lazy.

Honestly. Those are the three that I struggle the most against. And those are the three characteristics that keep holding on. I am selfish with my time and my pursuits, and I am arrogant in constantly thinking that I know better than the vast majority of humanity. I condescendingly judge people on a whim. And I’d easily spend the day playing Farkle and Bejewelled Blitz if no one would interrupt me.

So, 2012, you’ve come reminding me of these dreaded three. So, let’s decide now the three we would like to see evident in your bright and shiny new year…

Graciousness. Humility. Passion.

Note I did not say discipline. I want to wake up, not just follow the rules. I want God to do something in me this year that makes me different, truly. I want deeply to be in His Presence and be changed. Period. And I know that those three would be marks of that encounter.

I do have ‘things’ I hope to do more this year…I already said wine and candles….and I’m adding reading to that list. And music…more music. The flip side of examining the things that we do not like about ourselves that have played out over the past year is the shimmer of excitement that this is a fresh start. The slate is clean and we can try again. Of course, I believe that just pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps isn’t going to last beyond January 15th…..but we can turn our focus back to encountering a living God and that will last.

 

I’m thankful this morning for a quiet last morning of the kids sleeping in. I’m thankful for the ideas that are spinning in my mind of ways this year could be better…although it will be hard to top the arrival of Madeleine Jane in 2011!!

 

I’m thankful for a patient God who hears not only the words of my prayers, but the cry of my heart. He has planted the seed of desire for these changes, and since it is already His work, there is confidence that these changes will happen.

 

So, we’re off, yes? A New Year. Let the change give us time to truly examine our hearts, but without the guilt and shame the enemy of our souls would heap upon us for failing to live up to the resolutions of last year. Confess our sins. Seek our Lord’s face. Look with excitement to the coming year.

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6 thoughts on “Out with the Old, in with the New

  1. Amy Taylor says:

    Sarah, thanks so much for this! Just wanted I needed this morning… I’m neck-deep in regret and self-criticism most days and the concept of a clean slate is always such a good reminder. I just started reading Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved and when I am falling into self-negativity it has helped so much to just simply think “I am beloved…” Here’s to a purposeful, growth-filled new year! xo

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  2. sarahkwolfe says:

    Amy….Nouwen is wonderful, isn’t he?

    It’s funny, I avoid thinking too deeply about myself most days, because there is a lot to be frustrated with. This morning I felt like I needed to look honestly. There are things that simply need to change, especially if claim the name of Christ.

    The thing is….after 42 years I am well aware I can’t simply change them. I desperately need Him to change me.

    The only thing I can do is turn toward Him and be in His presence. That’s hard to do sometimes when we feel like crap. But that’s when we need to be there the most, yeah?

    Praying for you….and hoping you are coming to the reunion in October. Would really love to see you!!!

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  3. Anne says:

    Beautiful words, Sarah! At the service I attended yesterday, the talked about all our lists, how many times our lists consist of what we think we want, need, believe will make us better people for ourselves but also for God. He brought the whole message, as you have done, to reminding us, to put remembering whose we are and how beloved, at the top of the list. How sweet to get reminded two days in a row!! Thank you!!

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  4. Victoria says:

    Sarah, we are indeed in a wonderful season of life! I’m loving this decade of 40ish… I join you in your quest to be utterly transformed from the inside out by the Only One who really knows the true value of our lives and will repurpose us for his glory! Though we are thousands of miles apart, our souls are singing the same song – I suspect our great God may be up to something!

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  5. sarahkwolfe says:

    Thanks, Vicki! I do pray that God is up to something…I’m eager for that to be true. I’m aware that I go through seasons where I really long to think more deeply….to read and to journal and to be more aware. I am in one of those seasons, and sometimes that can be frustrating to fit into the “regular” of life. I think, though it may be presumptuous, that this is the stirring of the Spirit….and I do pray that whatever is stirring I pay attention and do not let it pass without impact.

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