Courage and Contentment
It took me awhile to pin down my “one” word for this year. When I finally decided it was absolutely okay to have two words (I’m such a rule follower, if you didn’t know), it got much easier.
Courage// born out of the desire to step out more often beyond my comfort zone. I’m an introvert, yes, but I’m also very shy! Yet there are so many good reasons to go beyond what is familiar and comfortable from time to time. I’ve also been struggling with “imposter syndrome” as I adjust to life in the Deep South, with entirely new people, and a new identity/purpose. I laid aside my past career of 11 years to become a full-time mama and homemaker. Here, and in my new roles, I often feel so inadequate or forgotten or unnoticed. It’s not that I want to be showy or the center of attention. I just want to be known. I want some close friends. I want to not be afraid that I am constantly on the verge of committing a social or conversational faux pas. Suffice it to say that I have a lot of fears and worries, but that I’d rather live with courage and confidence. And honestly, the people around me have much more love and grace than judgement, if I’d take a moment to remember it.
Contentment// born after I realized that I had made a very persistent habit of comparing my life, resources, abilities, looks, talents, etc. to those around me, and judged myself lacking or otherwise just not perfect enough. I stressed that I wasn’t caring enough or putting in enough effort, because my body didn’t bounce back from pregnancy like hers, my house isn’t put together like hers, I don’t entertain enough like she does, I don’t know enough of the right people to be in her group, etc. I want joy and gratitude for all that’s given (or not given) to me this year.
Complaining, ungrateful attitudes, and discontent send so many wrong messages to those around me, including my little girl. Particularly, it says that God is not trustworthy, not faithful, not the giver of good things. These are core beliefs of mine, and I should not, and do not, want to live in a way that suggests I think otherwise. I want to accept my limitations as God-given, rather than a deficit. I’ve been created exactly as He chose. He has equipped and will equip me with all I need to live the life He has given me.
My goals for the year don’t all reflect my two words exactly, but they are what I felt needed to be done. Some of them are joint goals that I share with the Norseman (like being debt-free!)
- Cultivate a vibrant prayer life along with consistent Bible reading and journaling. I want to be filled up with Him and His words every day, so that I can then pour His goodness, grace, and love into those around me. Gratitude flows out of time spent in adoration of God. Right now I’m looking for a devotional, and I’m considering this prayer journal.
- Live a healthier lifestyle. This is simple. I want to be active when I’m 80! I plan to do daily walks, and yoga several times a week. Yoga has been gentle enough to stretch everything that needs it, yet still be a bit of a challenge. It’s enough for this season.
- Grow in intimacy and communication in my marriage. I believe this is crucial this early in our marriage, in order to have a strong foundation. Communication is our number one problem area, as we have such different styles sometimes. Plus we can both be passive aggressive and not even realize it. But we’re looking forward to continuing to work on this!
- Learn more mothering skills for this particular season. Here’s a secret: I come from a big family, yes, but I don’t actually enjoy working with children very much. They overwhelm me with all of that energy! It just isn’t a strength of mine. However, I love my sweet girl, and I strongly want to know what she needs developmentally right now. Laying the foundations for hard work, integrity, stewardship of the earth and her belongings, and an understanding of who God is; this is a critical stage for that. I know roughly how and what we want to teach her, but the knowing how to incorporate that into the day to day has a bit overwhelming. We made some decisions about what resources to use, but I’ll write more on that later.
- Get back to daily music practice. My dream is to be able to sit at a piano whenever I want, and play whatever I want. I also want to accompany my family when we sing hymns and other songs. I have my old exercise books from college, so I basically just need to get to practicing!
- Be intentional and the initiator in my friendships. I want to learn, better, what it is that encourages my friends and makes their hearts glow. Being a friend across the miles is hard, but I know I can do better. I’m looking forward to finding the little ways to say, “Thinking of you!”
- Cultivate a life-giving, encouraging home. After listening to an interview with Sally Clarkson, and reading some of her book, The Life Giving Home, I have been re-inspired with a vision for our home. I want to create a place of warmth, beauty, rest, and welcome. Interior decorating is not a strength of mine, either, but I can learn! I’ve been thinking about my Mennonite upbringing over the past few months. I strongly want to incorporate more of that into our home – the charm, simplicity, and steady rhythms of the seasons. More on this later as well.
- Become debt-free! Last year we paid off medical bills, the credit card, and my car. This year all we have to kill are the remainder of the student loans. We have some large expenses coming up, but we still hope that by sticking to budget and allocating any unexpected income to the loans, that we can be debt-free by December! We were on track for it last year, but we haven’t had the big budget sit-down to see if we will stay on track this year. We may end up needing to make sacrifices, but it would be worth it!
And there you have it. It’s been scary to share some of these, but how else could I start a year that has the word Courage in front of it? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear your goals and/or words for the year as well. If you haven’t finished (or started!) the process, I recommend Lara Casey’s excellent series on finding your word and setting “good goals” for the year.