There's something comforting about the statement, "Welcome to a brand new year," isn't there? A fresh slate. A new beginning. For many, who experienced hardship, sickness and/or grief last year, they're more than ready to bid adieu to 2011 and head into 2012, even if it is filled with uncertainty.
It can't be worse than last year, you may be thinking. And, depending on your circumstances, you may be right. For others, you might be heading toward your worst nightmare. That's a comforting thought, now, isn't it? Sorry.
The fact is, none of us knows what is ahead. If our lives are like books, this next chapter is blank at this point. And, for much of it, it's up to us to fill the pages. Undoubtedly, there will be sorrow of some kind. And there will be joy. Surprises? Most likely. New friendships? I hope. Romance? Sometimes that's up to you.
As a writer, I can get lost in the lives of my characters. Sometimes, they take me on journeys of their own and they surprise me with their circumstances.
Life's like that, occasionally. We might think we have things mapped out, but then circumstances knock us off course. Sometimes, it's our own doing, and other times, it's not.
Looking back, what circumstances threw you off course in 2011? Is there anything you could have done to prevent that from happening? Are there lessons to learn to keep it from happening again?
My goal last year was to create a habit of honoring the Sabbath and taking a day off each week to rest, recreate and enjoy my friends and family. I'm happy to report that it was a goal I met with success. My husband and I reap the benefits of that more than I could have anticipated. Now that it is a habit, it no longer has to be a goal. For me, relaxing was my goal. This year, I have work-related goals to meet. Work habits to form. Financial goals. Money habits to nurture.
Will I meet those goals? I can only hope and pray. Oh, and work on them.
Will circumstances throw me off course? Probably. That's when it's good to turn my efforts into habits, so I can easily get back on the right road when circumstances permit.
Will I forsake my Sabbath experience to reach these new goals? Not a chance! The Lord has blessed me with six days a week to work toward those goals. And He's rewarded me with a seventh day to take a break. Amazingly enough, it's because of that break that I'm feeling confident the other goals will be met.
So, here's my challenge to you: Try your own Sabbath Experiment for the first six weeks of this year. Take one day off per week. Moms with young kids -- you're probably saying, "Yeah, right. What planet do you live on?" I understand. Of course, you can't shrug off your regular parenting duties. However, if you plan carefully enough during the week, you can get away with doing less on Saturday or Sunday. No laundry. Minimum cooking/cleaning up. No major housework. Spend the time playing with your kids more. Aim to get them to bed a little earlier so you have some quality time with your spouse or by yourself. Do something each week that nourishes your soul. It is doable.
For those of you, like me, who have their own businesses -- forsake the computer, or at least emails -- for one day each week. Clients can wait. And, if they can't respect your need for a day of rest, they're not worth having. Your business will not collapse if you take a day off. For 10 years, that's what I thought would happen, so I had to be online everyday. Of all the things I regret in my life, that's one of the biggies. My business came before my family, and for that I will always be sorry. I urge you not to make the same mistake.
So, here it is -- a brand new year. Embrace it for the possibilities it holds for you. And consider my challenge. Trust me. You'll be a different person a year from now.
Sharing my Sabbath experience as we face a new year,
Read past Sabbath Experiment posts:
First post of 2011
Battling with cancer -- let's play dominoes
The best laid plans of mice and men