Perhaps it’s just me and my quirky, one-of-a-kind, idiosyncratic tendencies—like utilizing too many synonyms and grandiose words;)—but it seems that using “definite phraseology” is a risky business. Either you live up to it, or you don’t. And I think, more often than not, we don’t.
We set goals. Exercise twenty minutes a day. Write a snail mail letter to an out-of-town friend or grandparent at least once a week. Read one new novel a month.
We write bucket lists (or adventure lists, if you prefer). Save for a trip to Europe. Start a small business. Go hang-gliding.
We make promises, both to ourselves and to others. I’ll make that phone call tomorrow. I’ll update you on my progress by Friday afternoon. Yes, I’ll clean the bathroom as soon as I get the chance.
But how many of these do we really live up to? Are we actually taking steps that move us toward these goals, get us closer to checking off our list items, or help us keep our promises? A step is a step no matter how small (of course I didn’t steal that from Dr. Seuss;), which is why standing paralyzed in one place gets us nowhere.
I’ve learned from experience far more times than I would like to admit that goals, promises, and the like aren’t easy to fulfill. Sometimes it’s procrastination that does me in. Sometimes perfectionism. Most of the time a deadly combination of both intermingled with stubbornness.
I don’t know about you, but I find it rather easy to be swept up in the “resolutions” tide come January 1st. That mysteriously thrilling day when you’re riding on the crest of a crystal wave, leaving behind the stormy woes of the past year. The salty wind that whips through your tousled hair feels so fresh and invigorating. Somehow the enticing sight of the horizon line ahead makes you forget that waves are volatile. Their smoothly swirling crests only last so long. The crashing down is inevitable.
And I’ve already experienced it. On many levels. In ways I never would have expected.
That’s when many give up.
But I’m keeping my resolutions list. I’m not tossing my goals or my promises overboard. I’m not giving up on the adventures I hope to have. I’m not letting the wind carry away my dreams.
BUT, I am striving to alter my perspective and attitude. The other day as I stared dejectedly at the sea of tiny, empty white boxes on my “daily habits” checklist, I realized something. They’re just that—empty. Wrapping up one’s hopes of satisfaction in one’s ability to check off as many boxes as possible is just foolish. Checking off every box and more wouldn’t bring true happiness and satisfaction.
But knowing that you did the best job you could regardless of the outcome might:
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” ~ Colossians 3:23-24
As I wrote this introductory post, it—like my approach to goals often does—morphed along the way. My brain thought, “Alright, here’s the plan. This is what my first post is going to look like.” And, not surprisingly, it wasn’t.
Expectations differ from reality. It’s a hard truth that I’m still learning. But that shouldn’t stop us from living for God’s glory—with His help—as best we can:
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
~ John Wesley