Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

Three of my favorite things:  New Year's Day,  a brand new calendar and a fresh start.  For the past two years, I've written a letter on January 1st, sealed it and kept it in my desk to be read on the December 31st.  I read my 2011 letter last night.  Oh good grief, so many plans that I'd forgotten about!

And I think that's where I go wrong in making resolutions.  Thinking I can use them to plan out my year.  What's the saying about, "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans?"

Last year, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish, books to read, ways to help my family achieve Goals A, B or C.  My kids are getting older, one has left the nest, one has one foot in the door and the other outside, and the third is in high school.  So, I foolishly thought that I would finally get some semblance of control in my life.

That's when God throws me a curve ball and knocks me on my behind and I lay sprawled out in the dirt.  Exactly which pitch He threw isn't all that important. He gets to choose the pitch. (Go ahead and cringe at my lame baseball analogies).  But the point is He reminded me that I don't get to choose  my challenges.  I only get to choose how I'm going to respond to them. 

My 2011 New Year's Day letter was filled with reflections about my life and how I would like to work on some things to improve myself.  Before opening it on December 31, just a few days ago, I thought about how the year had gone and what I'd learned from it. Oh, and boy did I learn some things! In fact I was feeling a little smug about how much I've learned.  Then, upon opening the letter, I had to laugh at how far the lessons were from what I anticipated and planned.  It was as though God took my letter and put it through His great big shredder and rubbing His palms together said,  "Okay, Miss Smartypants, here's the way it's going to be."

2011 was a year filled with lessons that I sure as heck did not want any part of.  I was challenged to my core and forced to learn character traits that have never been easy for me.  Patience, letting go of control, using a softer touch rather than always carrying a big stick.  It was exhausting.  Who am I kidding, it is exhausting, as I'm still learning.

Thankfully, unlike baseball, I get more than three strikes.  I get God's gift of grace.  His grace is like every day being New Year's Day or Monday.  What I love about having a fresh start on the calendar, is a fraction of what grace is every minute of the day.  God's assistance.  God raining strength down upon me whenever I need it. 

So, instead of trying to plan out my life this year, I'm going to concentrate on being a better receiver.  And when those pitches come a flyin' I want to be in better form to learn my lessons and receive all that grace.

There's one tradition that I'm going to continue in 2012, and that is choosing a word for the year.  The word I've chosen is a dull word, a word that even makes me yawn. It may seem contradictory to my reflections of being open to God's lessons.  But, in order to be in my best form, I need to get serious about some changes in my life as far as my health -- physical and  mental and spiritual.  And for that I need discipline. I'm going to focus on seeing discipline in a new way.

I read a blog post recently that quoted a passage from Catholic author Matthew Kelly.  I heard Matthew speak at program about a year ago and bought his book, Rediscovering Catholicism.  I appreciated it for many of the insights that he presented about the Church, but one part I'd forgotten about  was brought to my attention through this blog.  And I wish I could remember which blog it was, but I just copied down the quote from the book:

Discipline is the faithful friend who will introduce you to your true self.  Discipline is the worthy protector who will defend you from your lesser self.  And discipline is the extraordinary mentor who will challenge you to become the best version of yourself and all God created you to be. (Matthew Kelly)


Discipline is such an old-fashioned idea.  The very though of it is dry and tasteless and boring.  But it is the means to so many of the ends that I want in my life.  So, this year is going to be about Discipline.

(LOL). That's God laughing at me.  We'll see how it goes.

10 comments:

Joanne said...

It's fun coming up to bat with determination for this new Inning, isn't it! I like your word choice, and think that discipline is actually a secret ingredient to much success in so many different endeavors.

Happy New Year, Karen. Here's to hitting a Grand Slam or two in 2012!

Becky said...

I am struggling uncharacteristically with my Word of the Year. Undecided, unimaginative, unmotivated. Asking God what HE would like me to choose is getting me nowhere. I was hoping to have it all decided by today but still, I am unsure. Ugh.

I love posts like this. I too, love January 1st as one of my favorite days of the year.

Happy New Year my friend.

Marilyn said...

His GRACE is THE best, isn't it? I'm so glad to have it. I'm keeping SIMPLIFY and adding HONOR. Have a year full of HIS grace!♥♫

Rizzi said...

SOUNDS GOOD TO ME KAREN...I THINK WE COULD ALL DO WITH A LITTLE DISCIPLINE IN OUR LIVES...SOME MORE THEN OTHERS.....I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT MY MOM LATELY (YOUR GRANDMOTHER) SHE WAS SUCH A WISE WOMAN.....SHE ALWAYS HAD A GREAT SOLUTION TO MANY PROBLEMS
TODAY IS HER BIRTHDAY.....SHE HAS BEEN GONE A LONG TIME....I MISS HER SO MUCH......I HOPE 2012 BRINGS YOU A LITTLE PEACE......AND NO PROBLEMS....
TAKE CARE, LOVE YA, AUNT RIZ

Susanne said...

I really, really liked this post, Karen. You put into words a lot of stuff I've been mulling over. My word is "purposeful(ly). And I have a feeling that discipline is going to be a huge part of that for me. Happy New Year to you! Looking forward to hear your thoughts throughout the year of what you'll be finding from your word.

Renna said...

Good to see you back, Karen, and that was a beautiful and inspiring post. I love your letter idea!

I may have asked you this in a comment before, but have you ever thought of writing a book? You are exremely gifted in that area!

Country Dreaming said...

I did a post on my word the other day. If you haven't seen it-come on by.
A new year brings a lot of unknowns and all of struggle with the not knowing but we do know that God will always be with us!
Take care and good luck.
Hope to see you soon.

Melinda

Anita said...

I read another blog today about choosing a word for the year. Where have I been? When did people begin this practice? Of course, I don't have one! LOL

Your annual January 1 letter is an interesting concept. I know I wouldn't be anything liked I planned after a year. I can hardly stick to my plan for the day!

You have an insight about God's plan for your life. He's given you the word "discipline." Now go do your thing with it. :)

Anita said...

Oh, Happy New Year!

Jackie said...

Hi Karen. Thanks for your kind words today. I just loved this post and was so inspiring to me. Your word for the year is a good one for sure. Mine ended up being transformation....we'll see how that turns out. I hope all is going well.

Hugs,
Jackie