"It takes five years to get anything done."
That's what she told me right in the middle of my moaning and groaning. I can't even remember what was taking so long. Probably something to do with that little dream of mine to write a book. Unless it was before our adoption because then it was always that. Unless it was before I found Russ, because then it was always that.
She blew my mind.
Hopefully it's just because I'm a textbook Millennial and my entitlement is hanging out. I'm sure none of you would be mind blown by that information. But just in case you are too...
I had been walking around with this silly assumption that if God wanted something for me, I could just, poof, make that thing happen. A decision. A Gym membership. A trip to the grocery store. A new book with all the instructions. An open Bible and a new set of pencils. I would get what I needed and then be on the fast track to success.
Turns out, it takes five years to get anything done.
It took at least five years for me to settle in to motherhood, by that time I had four more kids. It took at least five years before my marriage became a strong enough place to be a shelter. It's taken far longer than five years for the Lord to work out the major kinks in my sin system.
It was news to me, but really? It shouldn't be news at all.
It's written right there in the story: In the beginning...there was a process, there was a plan, and there was a practice.
We sort of think of those words as an eternal mandate. In the beginning...God created. The end. But it really is what it says it is, a beginning. God started something and if a peek at the end of the book is any indication, we happen to be right in the middle of it. The end hasn't found it's way to us quite yet.
We are a people in the middle of the story, desperately trying to create our own finality.
When we finally reach our goal weight. When we finally get the Bible figured out. When we finally get organized. Read the book. Realize the dream. Hit the road. Learn to set limits. Or pull those limits up by their flimsy little roots.
So we make resolutions. We purpose in our hearts to get something good done. In and of itself it isn't a terrible thing. Until it is. Until it leaves us wrecked with shame and guilt. Until our vision blurs from exhaustion and we no longer have the focus we had in the beginning.
Maybe we need to stop trying to get something good done, and do something good. It's a tiny difference that can make all the difference in the world. We don't have to get things done, finished, completely completed. We just have to do something to step into the middle. It's in the middle where God is, where he is still working, creating, and making things new.
It's a tiny mindset shift that can move mountains. So here are a few tips to help you stay focused in the season of resolutions.
It's a process.
Repeat this over and over to yourself. You life and your goals are not a one and done. They are a series of small steps that move you in a desired direction. Or an undesired direction. If you want to move a certain way know that it will be serial. Repetitive. Predictable.
That's in The Story too. That part where God keeps telling the same story over and over and over again until we see that it's our story if we want it to be. Our sanctification, our holy desire for it to be on Earth as it is in Heaven, is a process. Recognize this and it turns monotony into daring mountaineering.
It's a practice.
My kids got yo-yo's for Christmas and the first day was all tears and frustration. They opened the packages, learned the rules, followed the instructions, and...nothing. Nothing happened for a little while. Because it takes practice. Actual application of the idea to make it work. Inherent in the very idea of practice is failure. Why would someone practice if they already had it down perfectly.
As I'm sure you know this is in The Story too, somewhere after the beginning, we failed to worship God. So we had to practice. He gave us outlines and templates to follow. We fail over and over again. That isn't the point. The point is to keep practicing.
It takes a plan.
Possibly there is someone out there who actually made stumbled into hope realized on dreams and good intentions, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. We need to press into the long game. We need the vision to see how this thing we hope for can play out in our life.
God always had a plan for our redemption. Daniel had a plan for how he was going to follow God when it God hard. Over in Haggai, they forgot to "consider their ways" and they got sidetracked easily. So that's what we have to do, set ourselves in front of God and let him set our ways. Because it won't happen over night there must be a prepared to stand your ground.
Do you do resolutions or goals? If so, what are yours for this year?
If any of your resolutions or goals this year included reading scripture (mine did!) I would love strengthen your resolve with a quick little devotional I wrote called Hold Fast. Just enter your email below to get it dropped in your inbox!