Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Resolutions

In 2011, I have a few things that I am going to resolve to do.

1) When it comes to the health of my mind/body/spirit, I am going to adhere to the advice my 93 year old grandmother gave me this week. “Always remember to pray. Work hard. And take good care of your kids.” She told me this as we visited her in the nursing home, Erin and I sitting on her bed and Nanny in her chair, facing us. There were tears in her eyes (and ours), and we held each other’s hands as her simple, profound wisdom was spoken.

That advice kind of epitomizes the way Nanny lives her life, too. And her approach to living has served her well for nine decades, so I suppose we might do well to adopt it. “After all I’ve been through,” she told us, “I don’t really know how I’m still here.” And she paused. “I guess it would be better to say I don’t really know why. Why me?” And she paused again, and kind of looked off into space for a few seconds. “But,” she shrugged and smiled, “here I am, anyway.”

2) When it comes to church, I am going to enjoy the experiencables, recount the describables, and avoid obsessing over the measurables.

- There are measurables, like how many people attend worship every week or how many participate in a faith development class or how many go on a mission trip or how many professions of faith are made, and so forth.
- There are describables, like the layout of a building or the flow of a worship service or the goal of a mission project or a Bible study lesson plan, and so forth.
- And there are experiencables, aspects of a congregation that you cannot hope to measure or adequately describe, but must be felt first hand.

All are important, but they are not equivalent, and furthermore I have consistently placed a higher value on the measurables than the other two. That ends in 2011. I do not think it is even worth trying to rank them in any way; each has a distinct and inherent value. And so I resolve to simply enjoy the moments that can only be experienced to be appreciated, talk and write extensively about those moments that can and should be described, and allow the things that can be measured to be just one among several ways to describe the health of the congregation.

3) In my personal life, getting specific, I am going to
a) Take a hike in the woods once a week.
b) Audition for (at least) two shows at Springfield Little Theater.
c) Sit down at the piano to compose for (at least) three hours a week.
d) Read good books instead of watching junky television shows.

These three resolutions seem to me to be a pretty good start for the new calendar year. Flipping the calendar is kind of arbitrary, just another number on just another page of just another calendar. And so many “New Year Resolutions” tend toward the selfish end of things, intended to impact no further than our own selves.

But this date does offer a chance to reflect and renew, and resolve to become better people, and that’s not a bad thing. I hope that our resolutions this year will be more than just a financial boon for fitness clubs, programs to help you quit smoking, and the latest greatest weight loss diet plan. I hope that they will really be geared toward living better lives in community with one another, and becoming the people God wants us to become.

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