Walking Our Faith: Let’s replace New Year’s resolutions with this | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: Let’s replace New Year’s resolutions with this

As eight of us sat around our computer screens knitting and chatting as if no distance separated us, I asked the St. John’s prayer shawl knitting group whether they were planning New Year’s resolutions.

The overwhelming consensus is best summed up by Laura‘s response: Her slogan for 2022 is “just roll with it.”

We are exhausted. We are tired of COVID-19 waves that send us into semi-isolation, public announcements to wear our masks and get yet another booster even if we are fully vaccinated. We’re tired of having our lives disrupted at a moment’s notice, travel plans postponed and much-needed gatherings with family and friends canceled.

I usually relish spending the days between Christmas and New Year’s reviewing my goals of the previous year and thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the coming year.

But on Dec. 26, I sat in my cozy, big chair with this year‘s journal in my lap and a pen poised above the last few pages and realized I had absolutely no desire to make any resolutions for the coming year.

What did come to mind, however, was an overwhelming desire to give thanks for the good that happened in spite of the disruptions and disappointments of the past year.

The first thing that came to mind was gratitude for the two years of sobriety I will celebrate in February.

Second, I am grateful for my faith and how it has been enriched by the habits of the evening prayer group that I’ve been part of for the past two years and weekday 8 a.m. Mass.

Third, I am grateful that my mother and my international student came to live with me in Breckenridge in August.

Interestingly, each of the things that had the greatest impact on my life were born not from a New Year’s resolution but out of adversity.

My sobriety began with a Lenten challenge. During Lent, we are asked to take up our cross and follow Christ’s path of suffering by giving up one thing that keeps us from becoming the better person God created us to be and that keeps us from the closer relationship we were meant to have with God. For me, that was my nightly ritual with red wine. When I discovered at the end of Lent that I felt happier and healthier after my abstinence, it was a relief to make the change permanent.

The habits of weekday Mass and evening prayer came when we were first asked to isolate at the start of the pandemic. Two years later, these spiritual practices are ones I cannot imagine my life without.

The addition of my 94-year-old mother and 15-year-old international student to my household in August has not always been easy in my now too-small apartment and has sent me to bed when my bedroom was the only place to find a few hours of time alone.

But after nearly 60 years of self-centered existence, I discovered a capacity to love and care for others deeply and generously. This has moved me closer to the person God created me to be, and for this I am grateful.

A familiar Bible verse promises that God will take the hard things in our life and use them for our good. It’s difficult to believe this when we’re in the midst of it. Looking for the good in our year-end review helps us to see where God has been at work.

Ending our year and beginning a new one with a thoughtful reflection lets us see we are stronger than we believed and our lives are richer then we imagined. We discover grace surrounds us on more days than not.

Instead of a list of resolutions, find yourself some quiet time this week, and reflect on the past year: What good thing did you experience? Are you proud of yourself for keeping an important commitment to your partner or your children or yourself? Can you remember a time when you gave someone grace through acts of compassion or patience or generosity? Did you overcome a fear or find courage to make a big move even as you were afraid?

After you have unearthed a few big accomplishments, say “thank you” to God. Our relationship with God may fluctuate from intimacy to estrangement over the course of the year. That’s normal. However, as we count our blessings, let’s renew our relationship by thanking God for his hand in the goodness we have experienced.

What I’ve discovered over the past few days is that gratitude has brought me optimism for the coming year, and thanking God has brought me closer to him.

I hope you’ll join me in this New Year’s plan. Let me know if it worked. I’d love to hear from you. Just send me an email at the address below.

I wish you a very happy and healthy new year and the discovery of how much God loves you.

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