Sunday, January 20, 2013

Last Year's Resolutions

It's time to give an accounting for my goals for last year.  I made one major goal in January, to ask myself a question daily. 

What am I doing to work toward God's kingdom coming and God's will being done on earth today?

Then I fleshed it out a bit, desiring to know God better in order to be more able to see next steps, desiring to be fully involved in a community of believers, and to live out what I'm learning (instead of just storing it up).

Quickly another specific goal became clear: to give up playing solitaire games on the computer.

Later I also saw the importance of being deeply involved in the brokenness of the world while carving out space away from the busyness of the world.


how have I done?

In the case of computer games, I successfully stayed away from computer solitaire with the exception of a day last month when I relapsed for several hours.  During the rest of the year I allowed myself one game of sudoku on paper from the weekend paper every Saturday.  I plan to continue this, now that it is a habit.

In the case of asking the question daily, I don't know if I did that or not.  It is so frequently a part of my thinking, and I may have thought about it every day, but I don't think I was in really seriously looking at my activities to see if that day was lining up with kingdom values or not.  This sounds so heavy, and that really isn't my goal.  I find that when I'm lining up my actions with my values...or with the values of God's kingdom, life often gets less heavy.

A small example is my kitchen.  When my kitchen is a mess, the heavy thing seems to be to clean it, even though cleaning messes would seem like a kingdom thing to do.  Sometimes I leave it till another day.  Sometimes I clean it.

When I leave it for another day, the reason for the leaving it becomes important.  If I leave it so that I can read a story to my grandsons, or have a meaningful conversation, or make a phone isn't heavy and I get it done later. I'm grateful for the stories and the relationships that are growing.  I love the interactions.  My life feels fuller and richer.

When I leave it because I don't want to do it right now and I'd rather read or knit or check out the news stories on, it's heavy.  It looms over me until I get it done.  I hate the room.  I don't want to cook.  I don't want to clean.  I don't even want to put away the dishes that are already clean.

When I finally get to it, even the process of doing it is a lightening of my mood.  I hear myself singing.  And when it is done (and you have to understand that for me it is done when it is 'good enough' and not when it is 'perfect'), I love being in there.  I look forward to cooking.  I want to light a candle and enjoy that space. 

What I anticipate as drudgery ends up being life giving when it is lined up with Kingdom goals.

I wish I'd asked the question more often in an in the moment, "what action should I take right now" kind of way. 

One major choice that I made in September was to begin attending Iglesia Casa Betania with Chuck.  Casa Betania is a Spanish speaking church that meets in the basement of our church building.  Chuck has been attending as often as he can for a couple of years.  He has had a long interest in learning Spanish, has worked hard to become more proficient at it, and loves the way faith is expressed among this gathering of believers. 

A couple of years ago we had one of our nights out that ended up being a very long walk/talk about where our lives are headed.  There was discussion about what each of us wanted to pursue, what was no longer life giving, how to look at those things in light of our faith and where God was leading.  I remember Chuck talking at length about his desire to learn Spanish and his enjoyment of Iglesia Casa Betania.  At the time we both agreed that this strong interest could be God given, leading him into new things that we couldn't yet see, and that he should follow it.

I have not joined him in that until now.  He always invited but I held back.

I like to be fully involved in the faith community I attend, and I found that when I attended with Chuck I felt torn by my desire to know what was happening in our church upstairs on one hand, and on the other hand feeling that I was not giving as much as I could be to Casa Betania.  How many places could I be fully invested?

But this year of often asking the question changed things for me.  It came to a decision point in September, when I was asked to serve on a commission in our upstairs church.  I prayed about this decision.  It was a job I'd done before and  I already knew the ropes.  Yet, it just didn't feel right.  When my last term was up on this commission, I'd felt a strong pull to get involved in something outside of our church body, something God was doing or calling me to.  Now I'd been off the commission for two years and still had not found this thing to be involved in.

It wasn't for lack of looking.  I thought the homeless shelter might be a possible spot, but every time it was our church's turn to volunteer there a real conflict would occur.  Not just an excuse.  A real family emergency or work related commitment would appear.  It happened too many times. 

Then I took the training for Circles of Hope, a support structure for persons working toward getting out of poverty.  The training was wonderful, but the Circles of Hope support groups always meet on a night I rarely have open.

As I prayed about this commission assignment I remembered reading that it is important to look for what God is already doing and then join it.  I'd tried with the shelter and with Circles, but I'd not tried with the thing God was doing in Chuck. 

Starting in September, I've committed to attending Iglesia Casa Betania whenever I can for a year.  They meet at least twice a week, and we make it to about half of the meetings.  My Spanish is not great but it is slowly improving. I am learning tons just by being in a completely different type of church experience.  I'm gradually getting to know people of deep faith and commitment.  I'll try to write more about that in another post.

At any rate, that's what I can report for progress on my goals for last year.

I'll try to write soon about goals for this year.