Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Pressure

My trusty alarm clock awakened me early on this fine New Year's day. And by trusty alarm clock, I mean my barely 2 year old baby, who is STILL teething and doesn't always sleep through the night.  Not only that, but he also STILL sleeps in our room and his wail is piercing, able to summon the dead, calling for attention and immediate response from all who dwell in a 2 mile radius.

In the foggy fuzziness of after-sleep which lingered upon my brain, words of a foreign origin swirled repetitively in my head: "Gung Hay Fat Choy" which is the traditional saying for Chinese New Year and reminded me that today was January 1st.   I don't know why my brain chose to remind me of this auspicious day with another language, but it was enough to get me going.  With the new year in mind, I decided to leave my warm burrow under the soft, comforting quilt and tackle this day with vigor and optimism. 

As I padded my bare feet across the cool, smooth laminate floor into the kitchen, I began to consider what noble actions I could embark upon in resolution for a better life this year.  The scent of rich, dark coffee grounds sparked my imagination and the first thing that came to my mind was the question of how I could resolve to better manage my laundry crisis, as a mother of six.  "What if," I pondered, "I washed a load of laundry every day, and promptly folded each load once it had completed the drying cycle...???"

For but a moment, my imagination settled upon the luxury of continual clean and folded clothing, but I quickly came to my senses and realized that the practicality of this idea was completely bogus.  What sort of New Year's resolution was "organized and regular laundry maintenance"?  Certainly not the top of my list of priorities when I could come up with a dozen other pressing issues in my life.

I sipped the delicious, steaming, rich coffee and considered my options.  I could enter this logically, and give myself a list of goals to accomplish, things that I would either feel good about completing before the year-end or things that would lag on me and pronounce guilt if not completed.  It occurred to me that instead of plans and goals, what I really need is focus.  I seek a new attitude; an all-encompassing presence of mind - a new perspective and a new way of seeing and "doing" life.  

The problem lies in the change, however.  How do I suddenly make myself better: more patient or gracious or joyful?  I could give myself a visual reminder, like a string around my finger.  Yet I know I'd find myself deep in the chasm, tossed by the waves and drowning, in the midst of the hurricane with disaster all around before I'd notice that subtle suggestion.  Then I would breathe heavy the guilt and drink the sorrows of my mistakes.

I dare not go into a new year with a list of expectations, plans and goals.  Instead, I plan to set before my eyes and ingrain within my heart the attributes and character which I feel God desires of me.  So my challenge; my proposal is this:  What can you focus on for the coming year?  What do you need to turn your heart towards?  Is it patience?  Is it grace, compassion or kindness?  Instead of the pressures and restrictions of a specific plan, what about a new focus and purposeful change of perspective?

In the story of Peter Pan, Wendy learned that Peter could fly due to his lighthearted attitude.  Perspective is everything.  It can leave you in despair, or lift you above the gloom and clouds.  I have no lofty goals for 2012.  I simply yearn to shift my thoughts to the right place; to focus on the good and to see the world with a more heavenly mindset.   Colossians 3:2 reminds us to "Set your minds on things above".  The more I focus on Christ and engage myself with Him and desire His presence in my life, the more I will be able to have the right perspective when it comes to my kids, my husband, my home and my self.  He is the source of my joy, and the light in my life.

Interruption came to my train of thought as children began to stir... By "stir", I mean I could hear a door slam and someone yelling "Get out of my room!"  Then there was crying and calls of "Mo--o---o--m!"  My heart pounded more aggressively and my nostrils flared.  This is not how I envisioned the birth and glorious inception of my precious new year.  But today, like the rest of the year will be about my attitude and my perspective and I will choose not to measure it by all of the standard accomplishments and typical mother's check-marks.  Right off the bat, I am given the opportunity to practice my new year's resolution: a new attitude and a perspective guided by peace and patience.

"...think happy thoughts" - Wendy  

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