Once again, I'm walking into the chilly first few days of a new year exceedingly grateful for the Cultivate What Matters team and for Powersheets. This goal setting resource has been life changing for me, someone who is a little cynical about progress and who struggles with consistency.
The 2018 Powersheets had a few new changes I really appreciated, but the thing I loved most this year within the prep work was this question: "What have you unknowingly decided that you cannot do?" as a sample response, Lara Casey talked about some of the things that had been said to her or about her that had stuck and informed the way she thought of herself. I touched on it a bit in my 2017 goal setting, but once again God brought before my eyes how much fear and shame limited my service to him and love of work. As I wrote out the things I longed to do but couldn't begin or the simple tasks I walked by every day, I identified these shame fashioned shackles:
- I'm not educated enough to write boldly about biblical truth
- I'm not disciplined enough to establish and implement routines
- This stage of life with young children means that I can't do _____.
- I don't have what I need (personality type, resources, help, or experience) to accomplish what I want or feel called to do
- My perspective cannot be trusted because I am overly emotional and blow things out of proportion
- I am "too much" and bothersome. What I think of as "pursuing people" is actually just annoying them.
After writing out that list, I shared it with my sister, who quickly expressed her sorrow over learning that I thought of myself that way, and retorted that she didn't believe a single one of them. There's a certain power in speaking our shame. When we say outloud what our hearts have so subtly embraced, its easier for us to identify them as the ridiculous lies that they are, or to have someone help us to see with clear vision.
God offered Adam and Eve clothing from an animal who died because of their trespass so that they did not have to cover themselves when they realized they were naked, and he offers us robes of righteousness bought with the precious blood of his son so we don't have to live with heads hung low and shrinking back in fear because of disqualifying thoughts.
What crushes those shameful thoughts is not positive thinking about myself and my abilities, but confronting those lies with the truth of God's word because of what Christ has done. He offers me a new identity (2 Corinthians 5:17), meets my weakness with his strength and uses it to display his power (2 Corinthians 12:9), supplies all that I need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3), and is able to make all grace abound to me so that I am sufficiently equipped for every good work he has prepared for me (2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 2:10). The Holy Spirit faithfully brought to mind these verses as I thought about how my life and days would be different if I lived out of the reality of what scripture says about who I am instead of the lies that shame whispers to me. I liked what I imagined: a life of productivity, characterized by delight in my work, selfless love and pursuit of others, more writing, less burdening of my husband, a more orderly home ready to receive the guests I long to welcome, and a sense of empowerment guiding courageous steps of faith and acts of obedience.
And there it was to claim. My word of the year: EMPOWERED. God has given me dominion over my life and home and promised to supply all that I need by the power of his spirit to carry out his purposes and do it well. He has set me free from the law of sin and death, and liberated me from a yolk of slavery and shame so that I can joyfully serve without fear. I am not empowered by my self esteem or confidence in my giftedness, but because of his faithfulness to his promises and the power of his spirit which dwells within me.
So I set my goals this year based on the things I feel held back from because of guilt or shame.
TWO THOUSAND EIGHTEEN GOALS:
- Clear the Clutter. "Messy" and "unorganized" are not part of my personality. I am capable of keeping a clean car, and doing things "all the way, right away" and "cleaning up before moving on" as I ask my son to do. I can implement systems and daily goals that radically change the climate of our home and reduce my stress level.
- Eradicate Back Pain. I live defeated by my herniated discs rather than taking diligent and deliberate action to beat it. Daily faithfulness and a commitment to prayer could mean being pain free by 2019.
- Pursue Writing as a Career. I can produce more professional work than the occasional quick post on the blog and Instagram. I can harness, revisit, and develop ideas. I can email those of you who "subscribe" rather than simply assuming that these words are not worth reading. I can begin to faithfully collect and research for the book ideas God has painted in my heart and mind. He opened doors in 2017 to pursue publication and write for outside sources and I am excited to walk through them and devote myself to writing more intentionally.
- Sharpen My Mind. I have far more time than I realize. I can read a chapter a day, listen to podcasts more deliberately, and even take free online seminary classes to grow in my knowledge and challenge my thoughts. I am capable of finishing, not just starting books, and just because I can't enroll in seminary, doesn't mean I can't be learning and growing.
- Intentionally Love and Pursue Others. My own insecurity and assumptions should not mean that the needs of others go unmet. This year I want to intentionally meet the people God has placed in my life with self forgetfulness, unafraid of what they may think of me and more concerned for how God might use me to bless or encourage them.
- Do Things I Enjoy. My attitude towards my neglected hobbies is sad. Sewing, music, crafting, and learning new things are not a waste of time. Delighting in them brings God joy. I can make time for them without guilt.
- Invest in My Marriage. Our life, time, and relationship looks different from the marriages many of our friends. Cultivating our friendship and fortifying our covenantal relationship asks a little more of me than what comes naturally and requires some creativity. That's okay. Letting go of expectations could give way to a really fun year for us.
- Be Intentional about Will's Education and Spiritual Formation. I am not a "Pinterest Mom" or a PreSchool Teacher. So far from it. But that doesn't mean I cannot teach Will diligently. I'm excited to implement instruction of the list of things I want him to know, and to be faithful in presenting them, without concern for results, and trusting the spirit to bear fruit from these seeds sewn in faith.
Each of these goals have more specific and measurable goals and action steps beneath them that make me really look forward to this year. Mostly though, reading them and believing that accomplishing them is possible makes me really grateful for God's kindness.