Discipline. Sounds fun, huh?
Last year that was my “word for the year”. I’ve been choosing a word for the year most of my adult life now, and most years I can look back and easily see how that word fit, how it guided me, and how it influenced my decision-making and course.
This last year? The year of Discipline? I started out strong for several months. Darn it, I would get more discipline in my life. I would make better choices, solidify good habits, reinforce my priorities.
I didn’t make “resolutions”, I made goals for the year. Goals can be worked toward. They are not short term. (You can’t fail by February if you have set a goal for the year, whereas resolutions feel blown as soon as you “mess up” once.)
Like many people, I started out strong with my goals in the new year. I even stayed strong. In fact, for a good six months I faithfully made good choices concerning all of the goals I had set for the year. Among other things I was writing every day (so good for my soul), I was going to bed earlier, I was reading more.
And then? And then something happened. I suppose it was a combination of things – our trip to America, getting slammed with a nasty, nasty virus, taking the entire family to live on a little ship in the far reaches of Papua New Guinea… and let’s not forget the compiling weight of taking care of two busy toddlers and still maintaining work and ministry and social responsibilities…
Who knows what it was exactly, but somehow I got a little derailed.
I found that the same habits that had been easy to start and maintain during the first half of the year all of a sudden felt difficult and just beyond reach during the second.
Instead of feeling natural and easy, they morphed into feeling forced and burdensome.
And maybe that’s where the rubber hits the road? When the novelty wears off and reality sinks in… When to maintain and to grow actually requires perseverance and a little bit of sweat and muscle. When your vision gets blurred just enough that it’s hard to stay on course…
It would be easy for me to wallow in disappointment for failed goals (I did fail most of my 2012 goals to be honest), but I’ve learned a few things over the last little while, and perhaps here’s the biggest one:
Even when things don’t go perfectly according to my best-laid-out plans, my life is always going to be great.
Seriously. It is. Simply great.
Why great? Well, why not?
Life shouldn’t be defined by lists and accomplishments and goals and milestones, even though all of those things are fantastic and help us to track the journey and record our growth.
But quality of life can’t be measured that simply.
Assuming that we have our basic needs met (access to health care, shelter, healthy food, and education), then quality of life is much more about the state of your spirit, your soul, your connection to others – God, family, friends, strangers, even yourself.
And if that’s what quality of life is really all about, is there any (good) reason that life should ever be less than great for us?
But life doesn’t feel great, we sometimes say. In fact, sometimes it’s just hard. And to that, let me give you (and remind myself of) a little hint:
Start where you already are.
Your ducks will never be in a row. (And if they do get in a row they sure as heck won’t stay that way for long.) Your circumstances may never feel “just right”. Your bank account might not ever seem secure enough, your sleep never long enough, your list never short enough, and on and on and on.
But you know what?
That’s actually okay.
Start where you’re at today and access the grace for the present.
(And put an end to all those darn ‘enoughs’!)
So here’s my good news: I’m doing that – accessing it. The grace! It’s a new year and a new day and I have a new word and a renewed focus. (Oh glory, He’s not done with me yet, y’all.)
Dear friends, I’m just gonna leave this post here. I have a whole slew more that I wrote but when reading back through and editing I realized that I needed to split this into a couple of posts so you don’t end up hating me. I wrote more about accessing the grace… and looking on to the year ahead. But we’ll save that for another day. And you? What about you – did you have goals or resolutions for last year? Have you taken time to evaluate your successes and failures and growth yet?
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