Here are some principles that I want to rule my thoughts and rhythms in this year of 2019:
Be kind to yourself. This is the title of a song that Andrew Peterson wrote for his daughter, and one of the verses goes: “You can't expect to be perfect/ It's a fight you've gotta forfeit/ You belong to me whatever you do/ So lay down your weapon, darling/ Take a deep breath and believe that I love you.” Earlier this month, while on a fellows retreat, I spent some time sitting on a dock in the river writing down lies that I was believing about myself and then countering them with things that I knew to be true. One thing I wrote was: “you have to do everything perfectly. No one else makes mistakes, so you better not.” I countered that with “even David committed adultery. Eve ate of the apple. Paul persecuted Christians. Peter denied Jesus. I will mess up, and the Lord will neither leave nor forsake me.” I’m never going to live up to all of the standards that I and others have for me, and I want to rest in God’s marvelous grace for me and have my self-talk reflect that. I want to see myself as Jesus sees me, beloved and one-for-whom-he-died.
Look for beauty. I want to see beauty in everyday things, but then also nurture my soul by intentionally seeking out beauty. This might mean pairing liturgies for everyday moments (casual plug for a book called Every Moment Holy - look it up) with intentional weekly forays into nature, where I can be still and see God’s face in the trees waving in the wind. I want to see beauty in God’s created world and in his created people. Lord help me to see you in everything and everyone.
Reflect. It’s easy for me to try to run away from my thoughts or feelings, instead of sitting with them and trying to understand them and see how the Lord is present within them. I want to be better about sharing my heart with the Lord and with other people instead of distracting myself by staying busy. At the same time, I want to be better about knowing when to leave my head and be present in the current moment.
Rest easy. “As the wind loves to call things to dance/ May your gravity be lightened by grace” (John O'Donohue). I often think and worry too much. I labor and am heavy laden, but Jesus promises me rest when I come to him, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Mt 11:28-30). Lord, help me to rest in the lightness of your grace and in who you created me to be. May I behold your glory with unveiled face and be transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18).
Lord, let this new year be for your glory and for our good. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”