2014. noun. Number, actually. The brand spanking new year we are beginning.
Another appropriate title for this post would be How I Already Broke My New Year’s Resolution.
As the new year ticked in, I had all kinds of good intentions.
They’re already busted.
Once upon a time (like last year), I thought I was a rock star at making resolutions. I’m one of those obnoxious goal-oriented people who looks at a new year spreading out glittery and promising before me and can’t help but see all of the potential to get my act together. Last year, my list of things to change about my life included items such as 1. Pray more, 2. Be okay with being single, or, better yet, get a boyfriend so I don’t have to be okay with being single, 3. Write down everything I eat so I see how much dessert I consume and am shamed into cutting back.
Let’s not discuss my long-term success rate.
So this year, I was going to be even more of a resolution rock star while ringing in the new year. I had a vision, which sounds so much swankier than a boring old resolution. I was going to dare greatly, weaving together Brene Brown’s insights about being brave, Hillsong United’s cry for deep, dangerous waters in the song “Oceans,” and Donald Miller’s gentle exhortation to live a better story in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I pulled together a Pinterest board because going on Pinterest is one of my talents. I made plans to leap out of the comfortable and do things worthy of the bravest book heroine.
But then I started reflecting on 2013. And I realized that I actually did brave stuff.
I joined the speech team, avoiding anxiety-induced heart attacks and attempting to make stories swell with emotion. I started a blog, pulling the words hiding in my head to the exposure of the Internet. I taught a water aerobics class, faking expertise about the proper way to hold pool noodles for enthusiastic ladies. I leaped onto blob, smacking my fear of heights in the face. (Read all about that adventure in this post.) I became an RA, learning to lead and laugh with the wonderful women in my hall. I stood quivering in front of a classroom, pretending to be cool, collected college student who was confident in her ability to explain dependent clauses.
Some of these things were small. But for me, they were daring greatly, inching out of my comfort zone to do things that scared the pants off me. Well, maybe not the pants. At least the socks.
I am beginning to dare greatly, taking stumbling baby steps in the right direction. So why do I want to do so much more?
I want to have my own reality show. Duh.
Or, honestly, I think that part of this burning desire to live a better story is me striving to prove that I am interesting, that my life is noteworthy, that I am enough.
I look at the story of my life: the character, the introverted one who harbors a fear that she might be incredibly dull, or the plot, which is full of ordinary, and I wonder why anyone would want to read it.
I grab the sparkly, profile picture moments and cling to them like trophies, evidence of an exciting life that other people might want a part in.
I timidly spread out my accomplishments before God, hoping he won’t shake his head and say with quiet disappointment that I’m wasting my potential.
I’ve got it all wrong. I hope.
I need to believe that, in spite of my insecurities, I am a beautiful, un-boring person who is worthy of being known. I need to remember that I’m not the only one who stares at the ceiling and wonders what in the heck I’m doing with my life, questioning how other people seem to have a tight-knit group of thirty-five friends and live a jazzy, constant adventure and have hair that never looks homeless. I need to understand that God loves me even if I live a crappy story, that he would still give me grace even if I did nothing but watch Netflix and knit. If I spend my year striving to dear greatly and write a bang-up story, I fear that I will pin my identity and worthiness on what I can accomplish: how many new things I can try, how many albums I can add to my iPhoto, how many ways I can prove I am exciting and interesting. I will think that I am the star of the show, that everything depends on the cool stuff I can drum up.
And that’s so not the point.
So I’m breaking my swanky vision.
Instead, I want to get it through my thick, self-glorifying skull that my worthiness does not depend on what I can do. I want to let the words be still sink deep and soothe the panic that comes when I try to fix everything. I want to whisper “Not I, but Christ” when I try to manufacture meaning and make things work.
This year, I still want adventure. I want to try new, terrifying things and swim where I can’t touch bottom. I want to live scenes that would add up to a stellar story. I want to see conflict as an opportunity for character development. I want to snatch up opportunities to be brave.
But I want to know that the backbone of my story, the thing that holds it all together even in the mundane moments of everyday life, is Jesus. I can’t heal my insecurities or make my adventures more meaningful. I can’t save myself. But he can.
And he doesn’t even need a New Year’s Resolution to make it happen.