For a few years now, instead of New Year’s resolutions I have decided instead to choose one word that will guide my year. Over that past few years I’ve chosen words like health and peace. This year my word was grace. I feel like I have been better able to pardon human error, and become less critical of those around me. I’ve given myself more space in order to rest, been less demanding with my time, and allowed less structure to my days.
When I began thinking about a word for this year, I thought about the areas I wanted to focus on- to change, or improve; I thought about those places that make me cringe- that I wish were different about myself. When I stepped back and looked at my list I saw a theme in the unfinished tasks, projects not begun, stalled goals, and unspoken dreams. The theme was fear. Fear of judgement- of my children’s behavior, my class’s learning, the condition of my house, my timeliness, my writing, my fitness level. Fear of failure- of not doing enough, doing well enough, being enough.
When I was in public education we had a seminar once about Root Cause Analysis. The idea is that you take a problem, and follow the ‘why’ of the problem until you find the root causes. Only then can you truly begin to treat the real problem, as opposed to the symptoms. My particular root cause of fear manifests in so many ways. It shows itself in anger, yelling, and being short-tempered. Fear leads me to self-sabotage and shame. It feeds sloth and depression. It starts looking like goals set and then forgotten, poor eating habits and reactive parenting.
Sometimes, in order to combat something that has a powerful hold, you need to face it. To speak it out loud. Call it into the light, and see it for what it truly is.
So this year, instead of choosing a word that speaks the hope of what I would like to achieve, I am choosing the word that has been holding me back. Each time I think about the word fear, I will also remember the Truth that is spoken about it- facing it, calling it out, and moving forward from it.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Maybe this year, instead of looking blindly ahead at your goals, take a moment and look a bit deeper. What has been holding you back? Name it, and call it into the light, and you may be amazed at how quickly it can lose the power it holds.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you. May 2017 exceed your best dreams.
If you choose a word for the new year, please share in the comments below.