Saturday, January 24, 2015

Resolutions & Relationships

Before you get on my case for not writing a blog post last week, let me tell you that I did write one, but decided not to post it. This is my second attempt. And once you read it I hope you'll understand why it's kind of appropriate that it is posted late.

2015. Wow. For someone born in the 80's, that number always seemed so far in the future. But now it's here, and I'm excited about having a fresh, new year stretching in front of me. I have a long list of resolutions that I am really excited about, which might surprise you when you hear about what happened with my 2014 resolutions...or, rather, what didn't happen.

When I quit my job at the end of 2013 so I could focus on being a mom, I had big plans for how I would spend the mountains of free time I would soon have. (Pausing to allow all of you moms to laugh hysterically. Are you done yet?) I read a book on making and attaining goals, made a long list of resolutions, and started 2014 confident of the changes I was going to make in my life.

I was so sure that with the right method I would be successful.

How short that dream lasted!

Shortly into the year, something happened which revealed to me just how deeply I had been affected by my exposure to false teaching as a child/teen. That shook my confidence and made me question...well, everything. My resolutions were forgotten as I entered a "cocoon" to use Del Tackett's term from The Truth Project.

Cocoons are dark and lonely places, but if you stay in them long enough, they are places that change you.

Just as I began struggling to identify and expunge the false teachings from my belief system, my pastor began preaching a series on legalism, which spoke to the core of the false teachings I was struggling with. It helped me see how stunted my relationship with God was because of these false teachings and the way they made me look at Him.

I didn't realize before that deep down I believed God was mean, vindictive, and demanding. I never would have said that out loud, but that is the way he appeared when the way the Bible was twisted and taken out of context by influential people in my youth.

Because of this wrong view of God, I served him out of obligation rather than out of love. I did the right things for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way, trying to accomplish in my own strength something that God intended for us to accomplish together.

He doesn't want that. It hurts him when I do so, when I see him in such a bad light.

I would never want my husband to do things for me resentfully, out of duty. And I don't do things for him because I'm afraid of how he'll respond if I don't--I do it because I love him! And best of all we love doing things together.

So also God will never ask me to do something on my own, without his help. He doesn't want me to do things for him to earn his approval or prove my worth to him. (Both are impossible anyway.) He wants me to do things with him because the most important thing to him is our relationship. 

These are just a few of the things I pondered from inside the confines of my cocoon, but I don't have time to go into them all. Suffice to say I emerged from that cocoon a different person, with a different view of God, a different belief system, and a different approach to life--and to New Year's resolutions.

As January 1 drew near, I spent a lot of time praying about the new year, seeking to know what God had planned. I began drawing up a list of resolutions, but this time it wasn't about what I hoped to accomplish. These are changes that I think God wants to help me make in 2015. I might be wrong, so I am open to him changing any of my resolutions at any time. But I eagerly anticipate watching him work in my life as our relationship deepens.

Already it's been exciting to see how he has helped with some of the resolutions, and the year has just begun!

Do you see now why I'm not discouraged about breaking my one-post-a-week resolution on the second week? I actually think it's kinda cool that the post about rules vs. relationships breaks the rule. (I didn't plan it that way, though--honest!) I learned from 2014 and I'm not being legalistic about my 2015 resolutions. I know there's no fool-proof method or system for for accomplishing the changes that God wants to bring about. Instead I'm trusting God to help me keep the ones he knows are important, and focusing on the long term change they are intended to bring about, rather than my short term success (or failure) in keeping them.

It's going to be a great year! :-)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Talking to Myself

I have a secret. It's a little embarrassing, but...I talk to myself. I always have, as long as I can remember, though I try to only do it when no one else is around. It was such a relief when my son Drew was born and suddenly I had an excuse for talking to myself. "I'm supposed to talk to my baby! It's good for his verbal and intellectual development!" I would mentally defend myself while strolling through the grocery store debating aloud the merits of various food choices. Meanwhile Drew sat oblivious in the cart, trying to unzip my coupon pouch so he could eat paper. So much for intellectual development.

All that to say...I've decided to transfer this penchant for self-directed communication into my blog. I've wanted to start a new blog for some time now, and have had no shortage of ideas. However, time and motivation have been in somewhat lesser supply. Since I'm a perfectionist and a planner (and a procrastinator) it was pretty much guaranteed that none of my ideas would come to fruition until my kids were out of the nest. And if I waited 16 or so years, blogs probably wouldn't even be around anymore!

I finally accepted the reality of my situation a few months ago. But I really wanted the writing practice and discipline of a blog. What to do? I finally decided to scrap perfection and planning, and just write about whatever! But not whenever. One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2015 is to write at least one blog post per week.

So this blog is really going to be me talking to myself. Maybe someday I'll have the time and motivation to start a topical blog aimed at being interesting to more people than just myself. But in the meantime, you are welcome to listen in, though you might be a bit bored occasionally as the topics will vary widely and therefore not always be relevant to everyone (or even anyone except me!).