Another January 1 has come and gone, and each year I get the sinking feeling that my restful New Year’s Day was a waste of time in context of that really long list of thing I should be doing with my life. “Make the most of it,” they say, with the best intentions. Everywhere you look, there’s another outlet reminding us to go out and experience the world this year. Or else. Many people make resolutions with all these thrilling and good things, yet we break them a month or so later and beat ourselves up for failing.
Most of these seem to be surrounded by the idea of accomplishing something big and important, hoping to improve our life or make it more exciting. That’s great. But I can’t help but wonder what we’re doing to ourselves because of this. What are we missing in the process of trying to make our lives more fun, adventurous, glamorous…or perfect?
My life doesn’t look that way now, and I’m sure it never will.
The reality of it is that today I started back into my mundane routine which mostly consists of really long to-do lists and not enough sleep. My weekdays will mostly include taking care of responsibilities, working on school assignments until the middle of the night, trying to chip away at my long-term goals, soaking in simple pleasures and managing all of it. My weekends won’t be filled with partying or traveling the world, and it’s unlikely they’ll be considered terribly exciting by your standards. That doesn’t mean I’m one of those boring workaholics who doesn’t know how to have fun. I plan for 2014 to have a lot of laughs, a lot of smiling faces around me, a lot of great memories, and a lot of great adventures; even if they’re only in my back yard.
I’m not afraid of working hard and I’m not afraid of resting. I’m not afraid of succeeding or failing. I’m not afraid of change or things staying the same. I’m not afraid of “boring”.
I’m not afraid of waking up one day and realizing I didn’t do anything exciting in my young adult life, because that’s only true if you believe it.
My only fear is that each day I’ll demand so much “change” from myself that I’ll eventually look in the mirror and not know who I am. I’ll live in this town and be a complete stranger. I’ll still be waiting for something to happen and I’ll still be putting unreasonable expectations on myself to live a life worthy of being a best-selling book and accompanying movie.
I’m afraid I’ll never be content.
Because someday life is going to get really hard and it isn’t going to be any fun. It’s going to hurt sometimes and it isn’t going to look anything like Instagram or Pinterest, much less Hollywood. It’s going to drain everything I have, it’s going to feel like the exact opposite of what I would write for myself, and it will require much more from me than I will probably be willing to give.
If my happiness isn’t Jesus and my contentment isn’t found in the place where He has me, nothing in this world or my New Year’s bucket list will ever suffice.
I don’t want 2014 to be a reminder of everything I didn’t do and everything I’m not.
I also don’t want it to be a big ball of pressure to live an unrealistically adventurous life. Goals are great. Please, go after your dreams. Use this new beginning to refresh motivation and work towards those things. Utilize the opportunities and gifts you’ve been given. But what’s wrong with the goal to just love the life that I’m in, where I am, with the people I’m with, and for the sole purpose of living the life God has given me well?
If you ask me, life looks pretty great, even without a New Year’s resolution.
Because from where I stand, I get to relearn each day that everything comes from the Lord, and He always ensures it is enough.
I get to invest in peers, and allow them to invest in me, while we’re in a unique stage in life; one that feels awkward, out of place, and incredibly intimidating.
Every week I get to see small seeds planted in the lives of a few six year olds and watch it begin to sprout as they discover their faith and God’s love for them.
I have the opportunity to learn how to do life from people who have been doing life well for a lot longer than I have: my family, friends who are like family, and my church family.
I am slowly but surely figuring out the hard work and sacrifice required to pursue the things to which I’ve been called. It’s not glamorous, it’s certainly never easy, it’s rarely the way I expect, but it’s real life.
As the new year begins to unfold, all I really want is a new perspective, not a new life. The next 12 months may not be very different from the last in location and routine, but I don’t want to waste a moment of it. I want to encourage you, dear friends, to remind you that life is beautiful right now. Go for those goals, but don’t forget to admire the view in the moment. You never know what you’ll see or experience when you’re ready and willing to embrace life fully where you are.