It’s mere hours away from the end of one year and the beginning of another, and here I am remembering the roller coaster that was 2015.
What. A. Year.
This year was full of milestones–some expected, some not so much. I turned 22, started student-teaching, and then I quit student teaching and dropped out of Northwestern for a month and a half. I came back to school as a Creative Writing major. I started seeing a therapist for my anxiety. I got an internship at a tech company that turned into a fantastic job. I started going out with the guy I had liked for a year. I stayed in Evanston over the summer for the first time ever. I relearned Spanish. I started learning how to cook–really cook. I flew on a plane for the third time ever and went to New York City. I finished college and earned my Bachelor’s. I moved into an apartment with my two best friends and I bought a couch and an armchair, my first adult purchases. I started reading Donald Miller’s books (and yes, that’s a milestone). I took my first (and second) business trip to Salt Lake City, farther west than I had ever been. I watched all of Star Wars for the first time. And I started knitting again.
Even though the first two months of 2015 nearly killed me, all the other months made up for it, and now I’m sad to see it go. It was a good one, at the end of things.
2016, though–that’s a new beginning. A new journey.
I’m turning 23 in eleven days. I’ll be volunteering as a tutor at RefugeeOne in Chicago. I’ll start paying off student loans (gulp). I’ll finally get an Illinois driver’s license. At the end of the year, I’ll be traveling to Europe for the first time with my best friend from high school–we’ll be visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Salzburg.
That’s all I know for sure–that is, if God doesn’t change my plans, which He might. But even if He does, there’s a lot to look forward to.
That’s why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. To me, it’s just as spiritually significant as Christmas or Easter. It’s about remembering and reflecting, but it’s also about envisioning and dreaming and growing. It’s both an ending and a beginning. And I love beginnings.
So, I don’t roll my eyes when we talk about New Year’s resolutions–not that I’m perfect at keeping them. Far from it. On my own, I lose my willpower to do better, to be better, just like every other broken person on this planet. But when I surrender my goals to Him and depend on God’s patience and grace and strength instead of my own, I’ve seen Him transform me and do amazing things in my life. No–resolutions don’t seem so pointless or impossible to me anymore. They seem hopeful.
Without further adieu, here are most of my many resolutions for 2016.
- No more “quiet times.” I’ve decided to put a ban on that phrase for 2016. What does that even mean, anyway? It sure doesn’t sound as appealing or as personal as spending time talking and listening to Jesus. Yeah, sure I love to write in my journal and read the Bible, but to be honest, my best times with Jesus are usually pretty loud. I like to sing. I laugh, I cry, I yell. I like to talk out loud and discuss things. That’s what I’m like when I’m being myself, so that’s what I’m going to try to do when I spend time with Him.
- Write down what I’m thankful for at the end of each day. It’s amazing how this has prevented those late-night anxiety attacks.
- Exercise twice a week for 25 minutes. At least, that’s how I’ll start getting healthier. I want to lose some weight and start eating better, too.
- Stop saying “sorry” when I mean to say “thank you.” As in “Thanks for understanding,” as opposed to “I’m sorry I’m so needy/difficult/hard to handle.”
- Memorize Isaiah 55. It’s my favorite Bible passage and it’s about time I memorized all 13 verses.
- Confess my fears to God and to other people. Name them. Because when I say my fears out loud, I am taking away their power.
- Tell others when I’m not okay and when I have needs. Trust that they will not abandon me or resent me for asking them to help. Needs or negative emotions do not make me weaker than anyone else. They make me human.
- Choose God, every time. Do not turn to idols like food, Netflix, worry, gossip, social media, lust, or comparison. They will not make you feel better or fulfill you.
- Read: Love Does, Scary Close (again), Do-Over, Blue Like Jazz, Daring Greatly, The Goldfinch, Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (also again), The Five Love Languages, Gilead.
- No Fear New Year! Ann Voskamp’s mantra pretty much captures how I want my year to look. I don’t want to be overtaken by anxiety or fear or insecurity. I want to be overtaken by love. So, I’m making 1 John 4:18 my Verse of the Year for 2016. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
- Make more things because it makes you feel alive. We were created to create. Pottery. Short stories. Laughter. Memories. Art. Photos. Blog posts. Poetry. Hats.
- Stop trying to be ironic or hipster (whatever that means), especially on social media. No one cares. I need to be myself on social media. I need to be myself, period. I need to be okay with liking what I like and not liking what I don’t, no matter what other people think.
- Start calling God “Abba.” Names are important. And I think calling Him “Abba” feels a lot more intimate and is a bit less loaded than the word “God” or even “Father.” I don’t know. I’m gonna try it and see what happens.
- No screens for the first and last 50 minutes of the day.
- Write more and shorter blog posts (as opposed to fewer, longer posts).
- Clean out and organize my desk. :(
- Stop biting and picking at my nails. It’s a bad habit I’ve had for far too long.
- Keep in touch better with far-away friends–whether it’s emailing, messaging, praying for, or Skyping with them once a month. So many of my dearest friends live or will move very far away from me and I need to pursue them far better than I do now.
- Take a Sabbath. Actually rest. Spend extended time talking to God. Er, Abba.
- Talk to people about Jesus without trying to prove a point or defend Christianity. Focus on the person of Jesus when it’s tempting to focus on non-essential political or doctrinal or historical issues. Honestly, I suck at this. People come to Jesus when they encounter Him as a loving, personal God, not when you win an argument or prove a point or follow the booklet exactly to a T.
I’m going to need your help, Wanderers, so please hold me accountable and pray for me as we bravely welcome 2016. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.