The week between Christmas and New Year’s serves as spiritual no man’s land reset button. It’s the time to contemplate the past year or even the past years, and mentally and emotionally prepare for the next one. It’s a time to consider what resolutions to make (if any) and make plans for how to attain them.
The past several years of this week have been too full to truly consider the changes I’d like to make, and prepare for the new year, and I’ve usually found myself in the middle of spring suddenly wanting to make the changes, but feeling behind. Of course, that perception has always been a lie, and when I’ve sought to change mid-year, I’ve generally fared well, save for some hiccups along the way.
This year, however, begins the second year in my home, and for the first time, I’m able to pause and take a breath during this no man’s land week. Instead of packing my earthly belongings, I’ve unpacked my spiritual treasures and needs, emotional hurts and highs, and mental conquests and this is what I’ve found.
I am learning how to live with boundaries.
I’m learning to draw a line in the sand and not let everyone zap me of my time and energy just because they needed it from someone. I am learning to let my “Yes” be my “Yes,” and my “No,” be that. It’s important to be a woman of her word. In the past, I’ve said “Yes,” with the goal of winning over people’s loyalty and hearts, but it has never failed me, time and time again, those very people to whom I say “Yes,” always disappoint me. They don’t always have my back, saying “Yes,” when I need them most. It took me a long time to realize they’re not being disloyal necessarily, but they’re knowing when to draw the line, as evidenced by their seeming unending amount of energy and emotional health. They look out for their best interests and needs first, and then look out for others. At first this seemed selfish to me, but as time has gone by, I’ve come to conclude they’re not selfish. Au contraire, it is rather by taking care of themselves that they are able to care well for others. And let’s be honest, if you cannot care well for others, you’re coming up short and definitely disappointing them. Thus, I conclude it is far better to draw boundaries of what you are able to do well, and then tend to your needs.
Know when to quit.
I used to spend a large amount of time with a workaholic. Let me clarify. I used to date a workaholic. And it never failed, he commonly compared my work “ethic” to his, and by and large, it always came up short, slowly chipping away at my self-worth. I was deemed not as tough or gritty as he was if I took on a project that needed a deadline extension because I found myself overwhelmed. Why couldn’t I just work nonstop, never make emotional commitments, avoid feelings, and just work? I was something of which to be ashamed, in his eyes. He tried to understand, but ultimately, he didn’t see how a lack of sleep affected my overall health, when he did just fine without such needs. This year I started full time online graduate school. I figured earning an MFA in writing would be easy, especially while teaching a non-tested subject. I barely even read the syllabus of one class while trying to stay afloat in two others and adjust to my new teaching content. I averaged about four to five hours of sleep a night. My workaholic ex-boyfriend usually did as well, but I guess I’m a weaker vessel; I need my rest to teach 7th graders and write well, damnit. And if that makes me a bad person with a poor work ethic, I guess I’m all right with that. So I quit grad school, and focused on becoming a better teacher and servant in my church body, and you know what? I found a good, hardworking banker and musician man at church who loves my cooking and willingly reads all my writing when I ask and makes me feel loved and like I’m more than enough of a woman for him. Know when to quit; you just might end up winning.
I feel like this really sank in when I went to Belize. Everyone there was better than me at whatever you’d like to fill in the blank. I mean, everything and everyone. It was minorly infuriating, and so I’d find myself praying, “God, what do you want me to do here? I mean, geeze, why did you send me here? I’m certain you didn’t send me just for the view, although that’s a nice bonus, thanks…” And it was with each passing prayer that it became more evident just how much I was leaning on the Lord, and at some point along the way, I started praying for the team more and more. God was even faithful to keep me down for the count, physically, while there. I got the Belizean flu a time or two while there, incapacitating me to anything other than the couch and God’s word. When we were out ministering to the people of Belize, I’d often find myself bowed in prayer over someone or another. Later, my teammates would come to me and comment on my prayer being powerful. I don’t suspect my prayers were anymore powerful than the next believers, but I do know I said those prayers with heart and intention behind them, and I do believe God heard them and will answer them if He hasn’t done so already.
So going into this New Year, I don’t make any major resolutions that I can easily fail at, because quitting grad school is enough for one year’s worth of time. Instead, going into this new year, I resolve to:
Make a Prayer Space: to spend more time with the Lord. Simple as that. I recently picked up The War Room from a Redbox kiosk, and I kid you not, watched it back to back. I may or may not have cried a time or two as well.
Use the Prayer Space: What use is it to have one if you’re not using it? I will probably spend a crazy sum of money on journals this year, since I’m a prayer writer.
Feel my body be strong: I’ve spent the past two years recovering from bodily injury and weakness and also emotional injury, which usually leaves my spirit sore and in no position to care about my physical strength. This would also include proper nutrition. Read: more whole foods.
That’s it. Those are my resolutions.