reflections on my 2015

Posted: December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

It is New Year’s Eve day, and I am deliciously unoccupied.  I was so excited about this prospect last night at bedtime that I was a bit concerned I might not sleep well.  I had to force myself not to think very much about all that was available to me over the next couple of days, since my mind went into bouncy happy mode at the thought of what has become so rare that it goes beyond treat now and into deep luxury:  unscheduled time!  As I turned in at bedtime, I had to remind my brain over and over not to play with how much fun this was going to be.

Happily, that battle was won.  I slept.

Today is my day for looking back over 2015.  I’m doing it in little unhurried chunks, taking plenty of breaks for stuff like drinking hot tea or staring at burning candles while snuggled under a blanket.  My morning was silence; this afternoon I’ve been experimenting with music.  I’ve got the curtains open to let in the sunshine and the view of the blue sky and the snow clinging to tree branches and roofs.

2015 was a really good year for me.  It was exceptional in its eventfulness, where family was concerned, with one “big event” after another.  I am grateful that each of these events was a source of joy for me, and not stress.  Grateful that time spent with various loved ones was a treat and not a hardship.  Grateful to have had the financial resources to do what I needed to do for each round, some of which was about actually having money, and some of which was about rocking realistic expectations and simple needs.

I’ve spent much of this morning reading or at least scanning all the blogs I wrote in 2015.  If I want to dig deeper at any point, I can go to my email and reread my grat lists, which are a treasure trove of collecting up time, experiences, lessons, and documentation of God’s furious grace.

My words for 2015 were DISCIPLINE and INTENTION.  Here’s what I love about listening for a word or words from God for a year, rather than trying to drum up sufficient inspiration and willpower to come up with something I think I can pull off over the space of a year:  following His lead is easier.  Like, A LOT easier.  When I follow His lead, He walks me through an adventure.  When I try to do it on my own, I belly-flop as I hit the water of life and come up stinging, awkward, and out of both breath and dignity.

There are ways that I would do DISCIPLINE and INTENTION on my own power.  It would involve the making of lists and schedules.  It would include checking things off as I go.  It would be measured, move by move, and evaluated for level of success.

That’s not the way God worked it as I followed Him, though.

I complained last January that I was almost certainly a sugar addict, and He let me just live with that and struggle in it for as long as I really wanted to, bringing me an answer and letting me ignore it until I was ready to give it a try over the late summer and early fall.  I was and continue to be stunned at what He revealed to me about that sugar addiction and the ease of extracting its choke-chain from around my neck.

I struggled about exercise for much of the year, and never really worked anything out that is consistent.  On a positive front, though, amidst that struggle I somehow made peace with the arthritis in my feet – it didn’t go away, but I stopped struggling against it, stopped brimming over with resentment at the things it won’t let me do, stopped feeling sorry for myself about my feet, and stopped focusing my thoughts and attention on it.  I was kind of shocked, when I came to realize that peace had arrived on the scene.  It kind of sneaked in while I wasn’t paying attention, I guess.  I am very grateful for this peace.

I flailed around for months about what to do for/about a friend whose struggle was causing me to struggle.  He let me do that for as long as I decided to, and when I got really intent on seeking out His heart on the topic, He gave me a practical plan to pursue – one which is working for me and I think for her too.

I muddled through my role as leader of the hospitality team at church, a role I feel I do worse than any leadership position I have ever held, and that one’s still not really much improved.  I have been given some good ideas, but/and I still think I’d “fire” me if I were our pastors and/or the people whom I lead.  In this, I’m being given the grace to do a thing badly as long as necessary to learn how to do it well.  I believe this is a real thing that God does in many a life, and is not an indication of actual failure in His eyes, a fact of which I remind myself whenever I get to feeling extra lousy about sucking at the job.  It may be that when this opens up in me, I’ll see where I’ve been stubborn or self-seeking or just flat out deceived, or it may be that this is just how it’s supposed to be for a period, or it could even be that I will just not ever rock this position (a prospect that makes me shudder, but I’ve done enough other things badly for Him and seen His hand enough times to be willing to deal with even that possibility.)

I fought and kicked and bitched and moaned when G’s schedule at work shifted in a way that wasn’t working for me, and I let myself get good and worn out before I was ready to turn and see what God would have me do about it.  In the last few days, as I’ve chosen to move toward acceptance with all my might, answers are opening up.  I don’t like some of them at all – one answer in particular had come from my pastor, repeatedly, not as a direct word to me but just as a bit of wisdom he’d picked up and chose to share several times at church, and that answer irritated me every time I heard it, right up until I suddenly saw that it was real, true, and absolutely for me.   It’s not even hard at all to see how these not-so-welcome answers might be pieces of the word He’s given me for 2016:  REST.  Also, I’m getting used to it being kind of an all-the-time thing that God shows me what to do and I go, “OH PUKE!” and then stomp over my own objection and do it His way anyway, and end up being overjoyed at how He has led.  So a wild hope has begun rising up in me already that it’s Really Going to Be Okay, where the schedule is concerned.

It hasn’t all been only struggle and awkwardness.  Some of intentionality and discipline have gone wonderfully for me this year.

At the top of that list would be the way it played out in my marriage.  It continues to be my priority to approach pretty much everything about that relationship with discipline and intentionality, from the purpose in the ways I speak and behave upon waking in the morning to the choice to live on his schedule rather than dividing out into more separate lives, even when that feels expensive.  Discipline and intentionality help me to choose daily not to be the jerk that my own nature would default to.  They push me to talk back to the voices in my head that drive my most controlling tendencies, and to stop and quickly apologize and recalibrate when I find myself Being Uber Bossy with him.  Discipline and intentionality are my friends when the urge to be critical with him rises up, and they hold the mirror in my face and insist that I check out THAT view as long as possible, which inevitably causes the critical spirit in me to slink off the scene without further comment.

Discipline and intentionality have helped me this year in continuing to address the remaining codependent features of my personality.  I shoot straighter than I did a year ago – over and over this year, I found myself saying to one person or another something like, “I can’t believe I’m about to say this to you, and I mean no offense, but (insert difficult truth here).”  I have become quicker to disagree aloud, without need for the other party to change anything in response to that disagreement.  I have asked harder questions of myself and others.  I have become less apologetic for where I stand.  I have abandoned a large chunk of my people-pleasing behaviors – oh, they’re not all gone by far, but they are greatly reduced.  I have been more direct in going to others to ask for their help or counsel.  I am more willing to own what I know, and not need to add qualifiers or disclaimers as I speak it forth.  I have been more assertive in asking for what I want, and in offering what I can do in places where I want to do it as a gift to another.  I have been more direct in just flat refusing to argue when someone is trying to drag me into their own issue that is not mine.  This year, I have called people on their crap in ways I’d never have thought I’d have the courage to do.  That’s not being a jerk.  My journey includes countless treasured people who called me on my crap – it’s a GOOD thing to be able to pass the gift along.

What’s funny to me is that everything I’m listing in the above paragraph are yes, about discipline and intention, but also about the previous year’s words, which were SPEAK FORTH.  I love it that God has just kept that ball rolling and continued to fine-tune it.

What about failures for 2015?  Those are important to note as well, I think.  I’d say my biggest failure has been not meeting my resolution to spend more time with so many people who are important to me.  I did not visit or call my son and his wife enough this year.  Now that my daughter and her family live near, I see them a lot more – but I didn’t catch them on the phone for day-to-day stuff as much as I’d like to have done.  I did not see/call/write my parents, my sister and her family, or my brother and his family enough in 2015.  I didn’t utilize Facebook and email as effectively as I might have to stay in better touch with extended family.  I have a long list of friends and family who live near that I haven’t seen enough of.  I have a long list of friends who live far that I haven’t called, texted, emailed, or sent a card.   We made it to visit JPUSA, but I’d like to have done half a dozen more visits than we did during the year.  I wanted “dinner at our house” to be an all the time thing, back when we moved in to this house a couple of years ago.  We’ve only had a handful of such occasions here.  That’s not okay with me.  My hope is that with 2016 being about REST, that will include much more time reaching out to my loved ones in all the many ways the reaching can be done.

I realized as I was writing this that I was just about to name my struggle with my weight as a failure for 2015.  In some ways this makes sense – I am not working out regularly, and I’m mortified about the condition of my body more often than not.  But further thought shows me that the change in my eating habits is slowly taking weight off (somewhere around 40 pounds in the 2nd half of 2015), and that’s not failure.  There are things I could do better, but I’m not going to call this one a failure.

Ditto on money management.  We’re not where I’d like us to be on that front, but we’ve made some nice progress in the last month or so, and we’re not dug into any hole.  We can choose better than we have, but we do a lot right.  We live pretty simply, and are not choosing budget-wrecking excess.  We don’t do credit cards.  The only borrowing we do is small stuff to work on building G’s credit rating, which had drawn down to zero after 9 years of living in community and thus being “off the grid” where credit scores are concerned.  We’re not money rock stars, but I won’t mark this category a failure.  I’ll call it a growth area.  🙂

My boss challenged me earlier this year to pray about whether God wants G and me to be homeowners.  This was no welcome challenge.  First, I’ve done the home ownership thing, and it didn’t play well.  It was kind of a bad dream I couldn’t find my way out of, and losing a house is not one of my more fond memories.  I’m much more responsible now than I was then, so maybe that would play better now.  But I also love the thing I get for paying rent:  the luxury of calling the landlord when the furnace or fridge dies (both happened for us in 2015) and letting the headache be hers.  We’re gonna have to live on a whole other level of financial responsibility, if He decides to walk us into being homeowners.  Still, my heart is open and I have been inviting Him to speak, since my boss seemed to feel like the prompting to challenge me on this was from the Lord.  I’d guess we’re more than a year out from being positioned to do such a thing, under the most generous estimation.  So, we’ll see.  If you pray, you’re more than welcome to pray for us on this front.

Oh, I reckon I could write all day today (the luxury!!!) but I’m approaching 2,500 words and realistically almost no one will reach this paragraph.  Time to call it good, for my 2015 blog reflection.  It’s good to get it nailed down here, where I can look back at it on this day next year.

I’d love to hear about what you’re mulling over from 2015!  Even (especially) if it is long.  🙂

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