I’ve tried to do New Years Resolutions in the past and I don't have to tell you that they don't work. Not all resolutions are created equal. Some resolutions you can make and have reached within the first couple of months which is great, but we’ve all broken our resolutions by June. I can’t point to one resolution that I’ve kept for the whole year. There have been some big goals I’ve accomplished. Like in 2015, a goal was “propose to Katie.” I nailed that one. 10/10. But nothing that's been kept all year long. Because let's face it, we have no idea what a year would bring.
Like also in 2015, I quit my job with a nonprofit that I helped start to do full time photography. I never would’ve guessed that at the beginning of the year. Or like at the beginning of 2016 when I got hired at my favorite coffee shop. No way I could have planned for that. That happened in like a 2 week time span. So I could say, “I want to read a book a month,” But think about October. October is always the craziest month of the year. There’s no way I can guarantee I'll get through a whole book in October. It just doesn’t work well for me.
In our home group a couple of weeks ago, we looked ahead to 2017 and started to talk about what our words for the New Year would be. My friends Jake + Brittany told us their word was Balance. Balancing work and rest, friends and marriage, and the likes and it was cool to listen to them talk about it because they had actually felt like they did it. Not perfectly of course, but if you were to look back at their January 2016 vs. their December 2016, their lives really did look more balanced. There were no concrete goals or milestones for them to hit, just an ever present awareness of "how can I incorporate balance in this situation?”
I like that, this whole word-of-the-year business.
It takes the pressure off of hitting specific goals in certain time frames. It doesn't make you feel guilty when you fail. It emphasizes the journey of growth rather than the perfectionism of getting it right or wrong. In terms of New Years Resolutions and growth, it makes a lot of sense.
So what’s my word of the year, you ask? It took me a while to figure it out.
I thought it might be discipline because Lord knows I can be lazy.
I thought about making it practice because I've been listening to a lot of John Mark Comer and reading James K.A. Smith and they talk about the power and importance of spiritual habits and practices like scripture reading, meditation, fasting, community. Dang, all good things. Even writing this I’m thinking, “why would I not make that my word with all of that good stuff?” I think because it’s still a quantitative measurement. I’m looking for something more qualitative.
So instead, I picked a really exciting word. It’s so trendy right now it’s crazy. I've seen 100 hashtags with it just today.
My word is patience.
Just kidding, no one is talking about #patience.
But I want to in 2017. I want to talk about patience and more importantly, obviously, I want to grow to be more patient.
This actually does come back to what James K.A. Smith says about virtue. He says that virtue is what comes as second nature to us. And if we have to tell ourselves to do or be something, then we don’t naturally possess it.
For example, just because I have a moment of patience, it doesn't make me a patient man. If I have to tell myself in a situation “you should be patient here” it means that I’m not patient and have to learn to be. Virtue is training yourself in something until it becomes second-nature. When I’m able to be patient as my first instinct, and not tell myself to be, then I will actually be a patient person.
I don’t expect to get this way in 2017, but I want to take a big step forward in it.
It seems like most of my life has been kicking down doors and trying to make things happen. Rushing things before their ready. My enneagram number tells me tend to cut corners on things and it's so true. Since being married I’ve realized how impatient I can be with such dumb things that when I’m done being frustrated about it I think, “why did I get so worked up over that?”
I'm not patient.
But I follow Jesus. I’m a temple for his Spirit. Patience got it’s own fruit of the Spirit so it must be important to this whole discipleship thing. I want to learn it.
So in 2017, my word it patience. I won't be perfect. Today there will be something I do that's probably very impatient. This year, I’ll probably rush a few decisions or try to force situations I should have let come naturally, but it’s part of the process. It’s learning and growing. And right now, I want to look back at 2017 and say, "I'm not perfect, but I got a little more patient this year, and that's good.”