Saturday, December 21, 2013

When January Comes

Even though August often feels like a time in my life for a fresh start, I’m almost always tempted to do a little goal-making in January. I mean, all the cool kids are writing resolutions or picking a word for the year. Seems like a good idea. It’s a way to be intentional. I like intentionality.

Only trouble is that when I set goals they end up being this obsession for me. I lean into tasks so far and so hard that I tend to step over the lines of intentionality and go straight to being a “I have to do this or else I will be a failure” obsession. I know this about myself. I haven’t always known it but I have for a good four years or so.

As a result, I’ve tried to scale back my expectations. One year I picked a word for the year because I sensed God was working something specific out in my life. It turned out to be a good thing as over and over the Holy Spirit whispered that word to me and I was able to persevere through the particular circumstances that year brought.

Then this last year came. I thought I went into 2013 pretty open-handed.

I wanted to set some small goals related to exercise. I’ve always had this little problem with sticking to an exercise routine. It’s not entirely my fault. Our schedule tends to change about every six to nine months and I get interrupted. One semester Jeff is running the girls to school so I have early mornings free. Then, the next semester he’s driving to Denver more so I am on drop and pick-up duty.

This has been our life. When seminary ended for Jeff last December, more time opened up.

I decided I wanted to start some cardio routines so that I could feel good while climbing up to Ruybalid Lake with my family in July and run the Run for Rwanda in August. Those were my goals. I have wanted to do these things for years. In fact, I’ve wanted to see Ruybalid Lake since I was a little girl.

In addition to the exercise, Jeff and I began talking about my possibly pursuing a certificate in Spiritual Direction. He was done with school. Surely, I could fit in one evening a week to attend classes and some other time to write papers and work on projects. He’d been doing this for years already. Now we would swap who was doing the learning.

By February I was feeling pretty good about my decisions. Until I had to go to Urgent Care twice in one week. At first the doctors treated me for something routine but the medicine didn’t clear it up so off I went to see my regular doctors a couple of times. They sent tests to the lab. Still no answers. March turned into late April and I finally saw a specialist.

She basically told me my problem was the result of stress. She told me to slow down and I had to change my diet issues that were causing some of the pain I was experiencing. (Bye, bye black coffee, by the way.)

The day after I saw the specialist, I found out I was pregnant. (cue bellowing laughter) Sure, slow down and take it easy to let go of stress. No problem now.

I started eating everything in sight and never went for a single run.

By now you’ve probably figured out that I didn’t meet any of my goals this year. I could have done the Run for Rwanda as a walker but I have been way too sick with this pregnancy to do anything other than go to work and then come home and lay on the couch.

I tried to do some teaching at church this fall but that didn’t quite work out as planned either. I’m having to let go of many, many things I thought I would be able to do after Jeff finished seminary. I dreamed of freedom and us being able to go camping and a whole host of other things that just haven’t happened. I don’t know (again) when they will.

I’m learning to grieve and be grateful in other ways. I’m uncovering new layers of sadness and healing that remain from the miscarriages. I’m discovering that I just may have to sit still and “be” in new ways come this January.

I think one of the downsides of setting goals can be that there is little to no room for surprises. Good surprises.

As I look back over this year, I feel the exhaustion and the weight of having carried this little one (thankfully, oh so thankfully) almost to term. He is due later this week.

And I have these moments where my heart feels like it just might burst from all that unexpectedly took place in the month of November when Jeff became a priest and we hosted our first service as a church plant all in the same week. (Uhhh….I guess we should talk about five-year-long goals happening that I had given up on…?)

At Jeff's ordination, Bishop Ken praying over our family with his hand on my baby bump.

I also had a baby shower thrown by some of my favorite people who prayed over me and blessed me in ways too numerous to count. These people could care less if I met some sort of goal this year or not. They could care less if I am able to teach or get a certificate in anything. They don’t say my worth as a woman is found in the number of children I have, though they certainly are there to love my children right along with me.

I couldn’t ask for more right now and I couldn’t have anticipated any of that last January.

Yesterday, I was looking at our family calendar and realized we literally have nothing written down for the month of January. Nothing.

Now, we will have church meetings to attend and services to lead. Those are a given as that is becoming our life now *tiny squeal and sigh of relief* and I will probably add those regular events in some time soon. I love being with our church family and it makes me smile each time we are preparing to be with them again.

But I also really liked seeing all those days open with possibility.

I have no idea what 2014 will bring. I have to admit I’ve told people that I kind of hope it’s boring. Though I’m not sure that is possible for the Stones.

Maybe ask me after January?