When You're Too Tired for New Year's Resolutions
The new year begins cold, barren, tired. I see blog posts about lessons learned in 2017 and goals for 2018 and a new word for the new year … and I feel nothing.
I started 2017 with specific plans. My word for the year was rest and I look back and think, “Note to self: don’t plan a year of rest when you begin that year with an eighteen-month-old.”
But to be honest, though 2017 was far from restful, simply thinking the word rest and becoming more intentional about saying no helped me to slow down and have a more manageable schedule. 2017 was the first year in awhile when we took no foster care cases and when I realized that I didn’t have to live life always maxed out to the fullest with no margin, only one small crisis away from a panic attack. 2017 was busy, but it was less anxious.
I began 2017 with specific plans for detox. Physically, after struggling with chronic Lyme pain through 2016, I planned to flush toxins out of my body, establish new habits, and become healthier than ever. I wasn’t planning on hearing the word cancer.
With my home, I planned to declutter and organize and make this space a better place for everyone who lives here. We got rid of a lot of stuff this year and redid the kids’ bedrooms. But I didn’t plan on ending the year still feeling a lot of clutter and wanting to organize the house differently so it works better for us.
Spiritually and emotionally, I planned to detox. Through counseling and friendships and books and Bible study, I wanted to work through some of the yuck inside me and outside me and become a strong, stable person, whole and healthy in every sense of the word. I didn’t plan on ending the year questioning myself and fighting shame feelings all over again.
So I come to 2018 tired—not sure if the tired comes from recovering from surgery and cancer and all the physical and emotional stress that brought—not sure if the tired comes from the continual needs and noise of our kids—not sure if the tired comes from a place deep inside me that either needs to rest more or needs to suck it up and push through.
I think I started the year with my expectations too high—expecting without ever verbalizing it that after decluttering and dieting and counseling and whatever, my home and body and spirit would be entirely renewed and I would start 2018 flying high.
Instead I’m starting the new year making a cup of tea, snuggling my kids for storytime, taking my thyroid medication again after forgetting it on a weekend trip, trying to sleep well at night, somewhat dreading getting back to homeschooling tomorrow.
2 Corinthians 3:18 talks about “being transformed into the same image [the glory of the Lord] from one degree of glory to another.” And I think about that—from one degree to another, how healing and sanctification and growth and glory comes in degrees, in slight graduations, in slow stages, in sometimes faltering steps.
It’s tempting to think of 2017 as a wash because I didn’t achieve my lofty plans, but on the other hand, looking back, I can see how I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually stronger than I was a year ago.
I did learn some things this year.
I learned to prioritize vacations in our schedule and budget.
To me, vacations are more important than owning nice things. Vacations are building memories and cultivating rest with people I love. They give us something to look forward to in the middle of the mundane. They are bright spots in the year, and though sometimes before we leave I wonder if it’s worth the stress of packing and traveling, I never look back wishing we hadn’t gone—I’m always grateful for those moments. I think my favorite vacation of the year was to the Outer Banks because I just love the beach—but I also loved Lancaster (twice), Michigan, Maryland, Williamsburg, and the solar eclipse in South Carolina. Here’s to another year of doing simple and fun vacations.
I learned I can do a road trip without Ben.
This summer I drove my older two children on a nine-hour drive to Michigan and back to see my grandpa who is almost 100. Not only was it a really special time with him and his wife, but it was a personal achievement for me to realize that I could by myself plan and execute a trip like that for my kids, navigating the unknown roads and planning fun things to do while we’re there. A smart phone definitely helps with all this. I’ll admit I cried with relief when I got home because I was so tired from the drive, but I’m glad I did it and it gives me courage to try more things like that. Don’t get me wrong—I love doing things with my husband—but sometimes I need the reminder that when he is busy, I really can do big things by myself.
I learned that private school is not for us right now.
For a little while this year we considered enrolling all our children in private school while I taught there. God was really kind to clearly shut this door for us so ultimately we didn’t need to make the hard decision. I’ve always thought private school would be a great place for the kids and me, but it’s clear at least for this season that home is a better place for us. I’m glad we got to look into what is a really good school and we may be back someday, but for now we’re home, for a lot of different reasons.
I learned that bedbugs are nasty.
We found them in the boys’ bed in October. Our exterminator was confident he could get rid of them ASAP, but we’re now realizing that was more of a sales pitch than the actual truth. After a lot of money spent on three whole-house exterminations, we’re in the uncertain stage of hoping they are gone and not sure yet. I cannot wait for this nightmare to be over.
I learned that thyroid cancer is the best kind of cancer to have.
Even though there were a couple scary weeks of recovering from surgery, getting the pathology report back, worrying that it had spread, getting way too accustomed to hospital bracelets, and working through irrational fears like I would never be able to sing again or sleep through the night again—ultimately all’s well that ends well, and I am ending the year with a new prescription and a little scar on my neck. To be honest I hardly feel worthy of the word cancer to describe my struggle since so many people have had it so far, far worse.
I learned that God and people really are most important.
Everything else can come and go and change overnight—I want to build my life prioritizing my relationship with God and my relationships with the people in my life. I want to be rich in strong relationships. I want to be the kind of friend who can speak life through a text, who can encourage over coffee, who can laugh over a book. I want to be the kind of teacher who inspires and asks good questions and calls out excellence. I want to be the kind of mom who communicates unconditional love no matter what. I want to be the kind of wife who connects deeply with my husband in all the different ways.
2017, you are just looking like a waste now as I look back on you because I’m tired, because my body is still a bit haywire from everything it’s gone through in the last several weeks, because it’s so cold outside and the kids are bouncing off the walls. You really weren’t a waste at all. You were so, so good for me. 2018, I have no goals or words for you, and I wish I did, but I know God does, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they are.