Resolve and Refine


I love a fresh start.

The satisfactory feeling of waking up on Monday, January 1st, 2018 brought thoughts of reflection and inspiration. This past year has been amazing. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy for three months, traveling to other countries like England, Greece, Israel, and several others. I turned 21, bringing a new perspective as an official twenty-something who is trying to pull her life together. I began my senior year of my undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies, the home stretch to graduation this May. I was accepted to the internship of my dreams, beginning this upcoming summer. 2017 can rest in peace, as it was a year that carried a lot of peace to my anxious heart.

Perhaps New Year's Resolutions are overdone and silly, they are held as cliche for the well-intending who begin dieting before the leftover Christmas cookies are eaten. Perhaps resolutions are for the hungover who partied too hard on NYE, swearing they'll stop drinking. Perhaps they are for the hopeless in addiction or pain, who promise themselves they will get out, "no matter what, this time."

Perhaps to strive after resolve is something we all need. 

In 2018, my resolutions are as follows:

  1. Kindness. Pride drives so many of my interactions. I often think of myself before anyone else. I need to be right, before desiring to be righteous. Kindness is not being a doormat, it is loving people with grace and tact. I resolve to be kind.
  2. Temperance. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life slip into my soul faster the fruit of the spirit grows. With self-control, these things fall on their knees. With discipline comes wisdom and righteousness. I resolve to have temperance. 
  3. Confidence. Insecurity holds me captive from the things I desire and am called to. From an anxious pulse in social settings to running scared from rejection by avoiding opportunity all together, I am in shackles. With confidence that comes from righteousness, as Isaiah says, peace will follow. I resolve to be confidant. 

I know what you might be thinking, "wow, great intentions, Sarah, but what does all of this look like on a practical level?" 

Each of my three resolutions are the big-picture character traits of who I want to be a person, three traits that should shape each habit and behavior I have. I know I didn't wake up this morning with these things already perfected, waiting to be lived out in 2018. Instead, these are goals that should change decisions I make and behaviors I have by asking myself if that choice or action is in alignment with kindness, temperance, or confidence. 

Before spreading that piece of gossip, I will ask myself, "is this kind?" Before making that sarcastic comment to someone I don't get along well with, I hope to keep myself in check with that very question. When I look in the mirror, instead of criticizing myself, should I not urge myself to be kind then too? Even when speaking truth to friends and family, if it is not done with kindness, is is just noise. Kindness should be the rudder to every conversation, interaction, and thought.

Being a good steward of my body, mind, and soul requires temperance. Exercising when I don't feel like it, finishing a dreaded assignment in a timely manner, and pulling away from busy life to spend time in God's Word are just a few habits that temperance as a big-picture goal will change. This will require mindfulness in the small moments, when it would be easy to continue in the habits I am trying to break.

"Sarah Mae, you're okay," I often repeat in my mind, but I want to begi believing it. I am often told that I appear to be very confident in my skin, that I know who I am. Perhaps that's true in some cases, but insecurity rules most of my life. I want to be empowered to be the best version of myself.

I gain great inspiration from a character from one of my favorite books, The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. She is a glowing spirit, fulling embracing the Goodness of the presence of God. In trying to explain why she appears to have "bathed in gold" she says,

"I am full now, not empty. I am in Love Himself, not lonely. Strong, not weak."

This is who I want to be. Kind because I am communing with Love Himself. Self-controlled because I am made strong in His Name. Confident because I am filled with the Spirit of God. 

Friends, I want to invite you to resolve this year. Make a daily point to humble yourself to the testing and refining power of Christ Jesus. When we submit to the will of God, He can work in us freely, bringing Heaven one step closer to Earth by partnering with us.

I love a fresh start, don't you?