When You’ve Already Failed at Your Resolutions
Day three into the new year and I’m already failing. At least those are the thoughts I woke up with. There’s nothing like New Year’s resolutions to send you into a shame spiral, where you start hand fisting Oreos while trying to fit everything on your calendar. I’m not unfamiliar with failure.
I spent New Year’s Day intentionally setting aside time to pray and set my intentions (not resolutions) for this year. For those of us with a harsh inner critic, it’s sometimes better to set intentions vs. resolutions. Michael Trinetti says,
“Whereas a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something, an intention is a gentle reminder to get back on track. Where goals focus on achievement and doing, intentions promote a state of being.”
For example, one of my intentions was “To trust and surrender that everything will be ok.”
So I wrote down my wants, needs, goals, dreams, desires for my internal state of being, (I was totally adulting!) and by mid-day on January 2, I had crumbled.
Sometimes life sidelines us and all our expectations and best intentions dissipate into thin air.
We wake up so excited for breakthrough and then we just get flattened.
Two weeks after endometriosis surgery, and I was stuck in the urgent care for 3 hours with a respiratory infection I couldn’t seem to kick. I had to cancel clients which I hate doing because I hate failing people.
I had tried to jump back into life with a vengeance after almost a month of travel on the East Coast, only to find my body and mind weren’t cooperating. I was going to do it all—Whole 30, get my house organized, start a new book, begin a video training curriculum, begin executive coaching for myself.
Anxiety was stifling me. I realized, I could choose to get frustrated and be hard on myself or I could listen, listen to what my mind and body were saying.
Every year I try to choose a word, a focus, an over arching theme every year, but this time it eluded me.
2017 was a year of mending.
It was a year of recovery and healing. It was a tough year, but a good year. A year I grabbed a very wisp of Grace’s cloak. A year full of pain and disappointment after 3 failed IVF retrievals, but also a year of joy being bathed in a purple hazed sunset along the Oregon coast. A year my husband and I had to lean into each other, accept each other, and grow together like never before.
At the end of 2017, I was hopeful and excited for the future, excited for the promise of breakthrough.
2018 dawned and I felt like I was in a fog.
My own personal strength to push things forward was nonexistent.
I’ve learned during these times when my heart is heavy, that I need to let myself feel these feelings instead of trying to force myself to be somewhere I’m not. So that’s what I’ve been doing–feeling the feelings.
And focusing on these words:
Because I’m no good at just choosing one word.
I felt like God gave me the word Trust because this year is going to require a lot of trust and surrender on my part.
With an IVF transfer, I feel so out of control. I have no power to really control the outcome. And with my particular issues, it means we can barely plan into next week because things are always changing. We don’t know where we’ll be when, on the West coast or East coast. Logistically, because of my immune treatments every 2 weeks (if I get pregnant) we might have to move to New York for three months. I hate uncertainty. I don’t like not being in my home.
I love having my plan.
But this year seems to have wrangled my plan out of my hands.
I want to fight it, wrestle it to the ground and force it to bend to my will. But wisdom has taught me this is a dead end road.
I remember days in Uganda when I would try so hard for an outcome, only to realize that when you’re in the business of changing lives you don’t have control over people’s choices.
I’m noticing to be an Author of my life I have to step out of the victim mentality. I have to trust and believe that things are not just happening to me for no good reason, but that these things can be opportunities, they can be allies in making me into the person I’m created to be.
Sure, there are attacks, we know that.
But those things will become the power of my testimony.
The next one: self-compassion. I’m hard on myself. I have big expectations. I want to leave a beautiful legacy in this world. I want to see people healed and thriving in their hearts, lives and purposes. I have big dreams.
Sometimes my life feels small, like the restraints on my life can’t contain my dreams.
But I’m learning the challenges, the failures, are the very things that teach us the lessons we need to learn.
Self-compassion is knowing I am enough and I am going to be ok no matter what.
Lastly, nesting. I want to slow down and become more rhythmic with my life, more settled in my routine, more open to receiving the gift of motherhood at a more gradual pace. I want to be less stressed. This is the very antithesis of what my year looks like on the outside.
So I’m having to make room for what nesting looks like on the inside–it looks like taking care of my soul and giving myself space to breathe in and out, it looks like meditation and self-care practices even if I’m on the road.
As I drove towards a nutrition store, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to realize that just a few days into 2018, I’d already been challenged in all the areas I’d set for myself. Wasn’t that a funny irony. (God and His jokes!) I felt like Jesus was saying,
Trust is built.
Trust is built in my choosing to believe in faith that this One who loves me has plans for me I’m not going to ruin.
He loves and accepts my weakness because my lack of strength is where He shows Himself strong.
Being challenged can always result in growth if we choose it.
“Suffering is an instrument God uses to expand my soul’s capacity to receive and give His love.” -Scott Shaum-
I don’t believe God causes suffering, but I believe suffering is a song that is gently pulling us to become more at One with Him.
I think this year I’m already learning I have limits again. I’ve quit my life once before, so I know I must constantly take stock.
These limits and these sufferings are an invitation to the Divine, and invitation to Presence because Jesus, a Man full of sorrows, is waiting for me there on that cracked and weather beaten adirondack chair on my back patio.
Often I’m so consumed with doing things perfectly I give up my right as a daughter just be loved, I give up my inheritance of peace, even though I have one.
So this is for the weary ones, the ones who are tired of battling, of pushing against that rock that will not yield. This is for the hopeful ones who are still dreaming in spite of it. This is for the perfectionists and the performers, the achievers and the do-gooders who long for someone to say they can rest now.
This is for the stay at home mamas overseas homeschooling their children and wondering if they’re getting it right. This is for the women who rush to work, who courageously do their part without being praised.
This is for the missionaries on the field or coming home who are worn out and looking for evidence of the fact that God still loves them, that He’s still moving, that He hasn’t forgotten them.
This is for those of you who were just sidelined and you’re picking up the pieces.
You’re going to have to press that Grace button for yourself so many times.
Whether you forgot to send out your Christmas cards, or you’re knee deep in poopy diapers, or you’re drowning in a whole load of shit you’re trying to get done that never gets done.
You are still powerful.
Sometimes we have to focus on the things we’re doing well.
We have to take things one step at a time instead of in an onslaught of change. I am growing. You are growing. As a friend said this week, “We all need different environments to grow.” Sometimes it’s just about finding yours.
This year is going to require a lot of self-care.
That’s going to mean taking steps back in certain areas, it’s going to mean prioritizing family over accomplishments, it’s going to mean my inner life will have to matter more than my outward one. It’s going to take some readjustment. Maybe I will have to build new skills I’ve never built before.
But whatever it’s going to be, I’m ok. I can look in the mirror and say, “You’re doing the very best you can in this very moment, and it’s enough.”
I can let go and begin again.
I read Sarah Bessey’s words on Resurrection this year and they helped me so much:
“Resurrection is the daily practice of living fully alive, the story of how we rise up to a new reality, the reality of love. Resurrection literally means to rise up.”
So even if I’m scared about how this whole year will play out, even if I feel overwhelmed, if I’m feeling those feelings and not deadening them.
If I’m staying present in the moment, then I’m rising up to live fully alive.
I can receive the gift of the sparrows twittering in my back yard, the jasmine climbing over my fence, quietly, somewhere God in there whispering,
It’s all going to be ok.
If you can’t rise on your own, I will carry you.
The breath becomes heavier and easier, with each out breath, a letting go.
What’s your word for 2018?
Resources– Some things that have helped me begin the new year:
Sarah Bessey Blog
Justine Froelker Exercise- Let Go and Receive
Take a Break Meditation App (free)
The Uninvited Companion- (God Shaping Us in His Love through Adversity) Scott Shaum
The Five Minute Journal for Daily Gratitude