I love January. I love the newness—the feeling of a fresh sheet of paper not yet marked, the anticipation of what might be written on the page of this year. It’s funny how much significance we place on the beginning of a new year. Every day has equal significance, every day is a new sheet of paper with equal potential. And yet, living in the northern hemisphere, I look out my window at a January landscape of white on white and that feeling of newness is strong.
Do you make resolutions? The last couple of years I have not. Instead, I’ve followed a Bible Study program of sorts called My One Word. The idea is to prayerfully choose one word relating to your Christian life, your spiritual growth, to focus on throughout the year. It becomes a study—what does the word mean now, what did it mean in the original language, what does the Bible say about it, what have scholars said about it, where does it appear in songs and literature? I’ve had two incredible years studying My One Word. You can read about my first word, Obedience, here: Oh My One Word! I’m still putting my thoughts to paper for my second word: Trust. That one was a doozy!
This year I have decided to make concrete goals—each month. Resolutions on January 1st tend to fade by February 1st. So, this year, my resolution (yes, I see the irony) is to make monthly goals. This month has been about my health: physical and spiritual. Feeding my body and feeding my soul with what is nutritionally sound and beneficial—cutting out the junk. This hasn’t been an easy goal. At every turn there are gatherings with cupcakes and cookies and pizza. At home I find junk-food books, games on my phone, and shows that are somewhat entertaining, but mainly just time-killers.
There has also been opportunity for follow-through: I prayerfully began an eating plan (again) and I’ve had success so far—and I believe that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, giving me a greater strength than I possess on my own. I’ve also begun a discipleship course that is challenging and edifying all at once—and I love it. Discipleship isn’t a means to gain greater knowledge, it’s an exercise in gaining greater understanding of those things I already know (or think I know) and putting them into practice. This is something I’ve longed for, for several years and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
On the eve of February 1st, I’m contemplating new goals. A new month. A new sheet of paper to write on, a new story to tell. What are your goals? What are your hopes for this new month?
In the interest of all things NEW, I’ve decided to change the format of Letters From Home. I’ve decided to write a weekly column, rather than posting several things once a month. I’m hoping the discipline of writing more frequently will combat my inner procrastinator—I’m good with deadlines. Usually. As I end this first letter at the end of this first month, I leave you with a verse and a poem.
Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.
Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.
Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow
on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.
No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday’s saucer
without the slightest clink.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)