Monday, January 31, 2022

A Year Without Resolutions - Being, Not Doing

A new poll of 2,000 Americans found that it takes just 32 days for the average person to finally break their resolution(s) — but 68% report giving up their resolutions even sooner than that. In fact, January 17 is actually known as "Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions Day". But most people calls it quits on their resolutions on or around February 1, and one in seven Americans never actually believe they'll see their resolutions through in the first place.  As a fellow resolution-ditcher, these numbers don't really surprise me.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had decided in 2022 to take a gentler approach to the new year.  So a few weeks ago, in my journey of quietly forging this gentler path, I decided that this year I'm not making New Year's Resolutions. No jotting down goals or dreams in hopes of becoming a better version of myself eleven months from now. Instead, I've decided that rather devise yet another list of things to "do", I simply want to "be" with what I already know,  and live more in the routines and rituals that have guided my life for about a year now, to dwell in the unforced rhythms of grace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 

- Matthew 11:20-30, The Message

As most of you know, because I've mentioned it more than once, discovering the spiritual disciplines through developing A Rule of Life has been life-changing for me. In fact, I would dare to say that A Rule is the very reason I've decided to ditch resolutions completely. Because once your life is already governed by order and marked by discipline, if anything you can simply revisit the Rule and adjust accordingly. I likewise credit the use of the Weekly Examen, a fundamental in decision not to resolute to new beginnings once the calendar rolled around to January 1.  One of the greatest benefits of the Weekly Examen is that I don't wait an entire year for things to get so far off track that as the year begins to wind down I feel the sudden urge to reinvent the wheel. By checking in with myself weekly (every Sunday), things, more of less, have fallen into an easy, natural rhythm (MOST things, not everything!).

That being said, learning to live in the "unforced rhythms of grace", by not only writing A Rule of Life but learning to live in it, takes time.  You're not going to put all of this into practices in a week, not even in a month. I've been at this for a little over a year now and I still consider myself a toddler. It's still all very fresh and new.

"A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how He has made us. The disciplines which we build into our rhythm of life help us to shed the “old self” and allow our “new self” in Christ to be formed, and that takes time. 

Additionally, in order to be life-giving, a Rule must be realistic! It is not an ideal toward which you are striving to soar. Instead, your initial Rule should be a minimum standard for your life that you do not want to drop below. It’s a realistic level of engaging in the spiritual disciplines for which you can honestly and truly be held accountable. Ultimately a Rule should help you to love God more, so if it becomes a legalistic way of earning points with God or impressing others, it should be scrapped."

- C. S. Lewis Institute

Of course, the word "Rule" is enough to alarm some people, and cause others to judge it as being a means by which we earn our way to heaven. But in this case, the "rule" is less about of list of "rules to obey" and more about a "ruler" which one can use to measure their spiritual health and growth. I would also offer that as God has created each of us uniquely, with our own tastes and preferences, that while the structure remains the same, how one lives out the practices will vary from one person to the next. Should you decide to develop your own Rule, you will find, as I have, that some disciplines come naturally and flow freely, while others take more devotion to master. And as humans, I don't believe that it will even be possible for us to successfully engage in all of the disciplines and practices perfectly within a single day, week or perhaps even a lifetime, although that is what the Rule is designed to aide you in doing. That being said, I know for me, things do slip. Life happens and I get busy and realize that I'm not living in alignment with my values and beliefs, or that because I find one of the disciplines more difficult to master I've allowed it to take a back seat, when in reality it should be my primary focus.

"Allow your rule to develop slowly over time. Listen for God and realize that the unique expression of Christ in you, your family, and your church will look different than the expression of Christ in others. It can be helpful to remember that the kingdom is built by the whole of the church body, so you need only seek to be a faithful hand or foot. Ask God how to live your part faithfully."

- Jenn Giles Kemper

Armed with this knowledge, this is why in closing out this first month of 2022, I've ditched resolutions and decided instead to revisit my own Rule and devote myself to improvement. Even in following a Weekly Examen, I'm ashamed to say that as I reflect regularly on things things like "Exercise daily", "Drink X glasses of water per day", I fail, miserably in my efforts to reset and be more disciplined. And it's not because I can't, it's because I simply don't want to. Raw, and honest. :/

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm going to be participating in the course, Growing A Rule of Life during Lent, which begins on March 2, so just a little over a months from now. This course is, as I previously stated, different from the one that originally introduced me to the Rule, but as I'm ditching resolutions and want to deepen my understanding on the subject, I think a fresh perspective is a good idea.

In the mean time, and during February, I thought I would share what developing and living by a Rule looks like for me, personally. So beginning this week I'm going to break down each section  and elaborate more fully on the subject. This will serve two purposes, which I'm very excited about. One, I think before I begin the course during Lent it would be helpful to revisit my Rule and, I'm hoping that in sharing it with you it will help to make things a little clearer and perhaps even inspire you in your own journey. But don't worry, if this doesn't interest you in the least, I'll be peppering these posts with other content, as well.

But for today, if you're interested in reading more about a Rule of Life I'm going to link to some resources that I've found helpful and you might, as well. I hope you'll find one or more of them inspiring.

- Instructions For Developing A Personal Rule of Life - from the C. S. Lewis Institute, quoted above.
- How Do You Define Success? I Needed A New System - I personally LOVE this article!


Everydaythings said...

Ive also signed up for the grow the rule in March too. Ive got the workbook printed out already. Thanks for sharing that link in one of your last posts.

Kimberly Lottman said...

@Everydaythings, I'm so glad you'll be joining us, I'm really looking forward to it!