2014 will always be a defining year for me: graduating college, having my thyroid removed, and moving to Malawi. 2014 will always be written on job applications, always be mentioned during doctor visits, and always referenced when I bring up crazy stories from “that one time I lived in Africa…” But 2014 was also huge for me for other reasons. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions (diets or gym memberships or waking up an hour earlier….? Ew. That’s like 90% of people’s resolutions, right?), but I’m big on goals. And mine for 2014 was pretty simple: stop making decisions based on fear.
And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I did it! The girl who was always afraid of speaking up and being vulnerable asked someone to move to Malawi with her, gave a TEDx talk, and posted 25 blogs to the world wide web. The girl who was terrified of change graduated college, had surgery, and moved halfway across the world – all in 54 days. And the girl who has always been scared of allowing others to take care of her was homeless the whole month of July and had to rely on her community to house her every single night. It was a crazy year, a stretching year, and a really great year. I can’t even imagine how 2015 will top it.
As I’m trying to accept the fact that it’s January (What?!), I’ve been trying to think what I want this new year to look like: preferably a lot of friends, a lot of laughs, a lot of good food. I also wouldn’t mind a nice job when I get home that I’m really passionate about with co-workers I love. All dreaming aside, I’ve come up with three things I want to start doing and three things I want to stop in 2015…
Start doing more things out of my comfort zone.
As the cliché goes, a ship in harbor is safe… but that’s not what ships are built for. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to curl up your comfort zone and a cozy chair, with a really great cup of coffee and even better book, and just be. At least I do. But, doing that too often leads to a very, well, comfortable life. And that’s not what I want. I want to follow His call on my life wherever it leads, I want to walk deeper than my feet can ever wander, and I want to be thrown so far off of my security blanket that only He can catch me. Not saying I’m never going to treat myself with things I know I love in 2015, but I want to work towards purposely stepping out of my comfort zone more often – just to see where it takes me.
Stop blaming my past on other people.
I admit, this one came about because I realized how annoying it is when others do this. We all have friends like this…. and we all are like this. I’ve been guilty of being upset over how people have treated me, how I’ve been raised, or things that have happened to me. And although many people have perfectly legitimate reasons to be scarred from their past, the reality is blunt: only you can choose how to move forward. You can decide whether or not you are going to work on trusting people (regardless of that horrible ex who destroyed your trust in mankind). You can decide to stop believing the lies that you were forced to believe growing up (even if your parents still tell them). You can start working towards change; I’m not saying its easy or simple, but it all has to do with YOU. Our pasts might have been horrible, but only we can change our futures. I’m done acting a certain way – or excusing certain actions – because of someone in my past.
Start feeding my relationships.
I want to be able to provide nourishment for my friends’ bodies and hearts. I want 2015 to be full of dinner parties! And dessert nights! And Saturday morning brunches! Living in Malawi and living with Alisa has taught me the hard work that goes into making good food… but also how much I love it. Butternut squash soup, avocado risotto, a cinnamon peach galette – these are things that I’ve made in the last week alone. I’m looking forward to more experimenting in the kitchen, but what I’m looking forward to more is sharing it with people I love. There’s nothing better than having people over and placing a really delicious meal in front of them that you worked hard on – Here, I made this and slaved in the kitchen all day for you. Or surprising someone with homemade goodies just because it’s a Wednesday – I thought you might enjoy some pumpkin cupcakes with honey cream cheese frosting, because who doesn’t?
With that said, I also want to feed my relationships. I want to pursue friendships with people that are authentic and genuine. I want to meet up for coffee and really hear how people are doing, not chitchat about the latest episode of The Voice. I want to have friends over for dinner and talk about things that matter, hear what they are passionate about, ask what their struggles are. Because, to me, there is nothing more life giving and soul tending than to have real, honest conversations with those you love.
Stop apologizing for my passions.
This is a big one for me, because I can get embarrassed after I spend 20 minutes of a coffee date talking about my high school girls. I tend to shrug off the question of “What have you been reading lately?” because I don’t want to bore people with the five books that I’m actually in the middle of simultaneously. And, before leaving for Malawi, I learned to quickly sum up my plans for after graduation in one simple, short sentence – because who wants to hear my long, drawn out story about how Malawi captured my heart two years ago, the church that I feel called to there, and the red dirt of Chinsapo?
But, I’m learning that these passions of mine were given to me, for a reason, by the Creator of the universe. So I don’t need to apologize for them – ever! I don’t need to feel awkward when my weekend plans revolved around high schoolers, because I love investing in that age group and God is using me in those girls’ lives. I don’t need to shy away from any questions about myself, because God made me me for a reason. He gave me these gifts and these passions for a reason, and He put me where He put me for a reason. I need to stop thinking I need to apologize for it, and start embracing it instead.
Start reading more truth.
I’m attempting – with a few friends – to read the Bible in a year! With the fantastic She Reads Truth app, which I’ve fallen in love with over the past few months – check it out! So my hope is to start my days off with reading Truth. Because, as a friend once told me, we get told so many lies throughout the day that we should always begin with His Truth. I’ve been a Christian a long time, but I’ve never actually read the whole Bible (oops). I’m excited to spend time with God in this way, every day, for the year.
I also want to read more news articles, published studies, and historical accounts. For four years of college I’ve been limited in my ability of choosing what to read because my class reading lists always dominated. But now that I’m free of that, I want to continue learning! I want to know what’s going on in the world and what is being researched to potentially occur and what has happened before my time.
Stop worrying about the future.
This might be one of those I’ll-go-to-the-gym-every-morning kind of goal…. something you say, something you really, really want to become reality, yet something you know will never actually happen. I worry about everything. I worry about tonight and tomorrow and five years from now. I worry about the outcome of events that have nothing to do with me and worry about events that in actuality might never happen. I’m always thinking ahead, but with that, I’m always worried about the future.
This year I want to stop that. Or, at the very least, do less of that. I want to find the balance of planning for the future and being prepared for the future, but not freaking out over it. I want to have faith that God has got this, and got me, in His hands – forever. I want to be able to rest in His perfect peace, and give up my need for control. I want 2015 to be less full of worried, anxious thoughts about what’s to come – and more full of enjoying the gift of the present.