We all have different things that we have trouble facing and for me, this year had them all. There was a major job change (I'm still not sure whether it was for the better or not) that really, really rocked my confidence and working with people who are negative, frustrated and who really aren't interested in working on a team the way that I have in the past. There was our sitter, who was like family to my kids, who suddenly and through no fault of ours, dropped us during the second week of school. That might not seem like a bit deal to someone who hasn't gone through the agony of trying to find childcare that felt right but if you have ever had to do it, you will understand the stress of having to find new daycare literally on the spur of the moment (and with quite a lot of yucky emotional stuff involved in the situation). There was a friendship that had become very toxic to me that became abundantly clear had to end - I couldn't handle the flying back and forth between outright antagonism and making demands of me and I was always on edge in terms of what to expect. I avoid conflict at all costs and I was put into a situation in which I 1. had to finally directly say that I couldn't be the target for this person's misplaced anger anymore, 2. felt a bit let down by some friends in our circle who could see that this person was not treating me well but since the person wasn't doing it to them, basically just stayed out of it (which I KNOW was unfair of me - it wouldn't have been fair for them to take sides but it still hurt that it was only me that seemed to get the anger) and 3. this person's child was a good friend of my daughter and I have had to deal with some difficulty in trying to explain to my daughter why she is no longer included and why parties are being held that involve all of her friends and my daughter is not invited. I've been really struggling since the final conflict with how to be - this is a small town and we will encounter each other. I don't want to have a festering wound and I don't think I'm angry at her (I've prayed about this a lot to be able to forgive and I'm struggling with seeing the difference between forgiveness and allowing myself to be hurt by some really unpleasant things). We also have had a great deal of heartache on the church front this year, with the church that has been our home for the last 7 or 8 years no longer feeling like the welcoming place of growth for us and becoming a place where we felt left outside and not really accepted, other than to work. In many ways, that has been the hardest thing for me. Church has always been a second home to me and an extended family. I have felt very guilty at the prospect of possibly leaving (we are still saying "if" rather than "when" in terms of officially leaving) and potentially hurting some people that we really care about. At the same time, our kids have become really involved in a local church through VBS, Awana and the kids' choir and we have fallen in love with the preaching, the fact of connecting with Christians in our own community and people who values in terms of family and parenting are the same as ours and going to church without all of the emotional bagged that we have gathered in the other situation. I'm feeling like I've been avoiding making decisions and addressing things that weren't working and God left me with no choice and in many ways at once.
The biggest sensation I have had this year is one of my life being out of control. Instead of having a plan and sticking to the way that I wanted to live, I've been dragged along behind each crisis, in damage control mode and making decisions without thinking them through first. I am often going to bed feeling worried that I have let people down, waking feeling a sense of dread of what is potentially coming as fallout of what has come before, spending my little quiet time brooding over whether I have done enough to try to make things work, whether I might have hurt someone inadvertently or feeling sad that I have not done something that I wanted to do, particularly in terms of reaching out to the people most important to me. I'm tired of feeling that way and my big goal for 2014 is to live my life differently.
In the past, I have liked the idea of having a word for the year. Some of my favourite faith bloggers have written about it and I love the idea. I won't lie, I don't always live it out the word that I want to but I am going to try again. My word for 2014? I have pondered this for a few weeks now and this is what keeps coming to me:
I want my word for the year to be "Intentional" and I want to live that way. I want to spend some time first thing in the morning in prayer and journaling, focused on what is most important to me and taking that into my day. I can't change how other people behave, I can't always make everyone happy as much as I try and I can't always make situations into what I think that they should be. What I can do is to be aware of the things that mean most to me and to make my decisions so that they are in keeping with what I value. My husband has a great saying that he uses to direct how he lives his life - he "goes to bed at night making sure that his side of the street is clean" - making decisions that he feels respect the people around him, reaching out and helping when he can, behaving graciously to others regardless of whether they deserve it and then, he moves on. I would like to try to live that way. I would like to slow my decisions down, to take some time to reflect and to go to bed at night knowing that the people I love know that they are loved, that my children feel securely loved, that I have reached out to offer help to anyone that I can, that my students feel happy to learn and safe in our classroom, that my home is a place of welcome for those who enter into it and that I don't waste time and emotional energy on toxic people and situations over which I have little or no control. It sounds so straightforward when I write it here but I know that it will be anything but simple for me and that if I manage to achieve it, there will be a great deal of growth that will have to happen along the way.
My current values:
1. That the people I care about know that I care about them and am never to busy to be here for them when they need me
2. Making time for my faith and always striving to live the way that I believe God calls me to live
3. Caring for those in need, whether I know them or not
4. That I try my best at my work (but that I worry less about being "the best" but focus more on making wonderful educational experiences for my students
5. That I strive to create some time in our family schedule for quiet time together, time enjoying each other and just "being" at home
6. Building connections with the people who build me up and striving to spend as little time and emotional energy as possible with those whose negativity turn me into someone that I don't want to be
7. live slowly enough to notice the rich blessings that surround me (and making time for my gratitude journal daily to help me to maintain awareness of what matters most to me)
8. look for ways to make wonderful memories for my friends and family in simple ways that take advantage of the many blessings that I enjoy
It's almost certain that I will add to this list but for now, this is my starting point. Wish me luck. I'd really like to be sitting down at this point next year feeling like I have begun to master my anxiety and to live at a pace that allows me to really make to most of each day I am given.
I hope that everyone who is making resolutions is able to find your path and achieve the dreams that you have for yourself and those amazing dreams that God dreams for you!