Tuesday, January 2, 2018

THRIVE - A Promise to Myself in 2018




   Finally returning to the blogging world after what seems like forever is truly like a breathe of fresh air. It's no secret that my time management skills could use some help, and what better time to start fresh and take a step in the right direction, than a brand new year? Year after year, I've been the clich√©: I made a list of resolutions, fumbled my way through the first two weeks of January, and then gave up. I even go so far as to buy myself a new planner thinking surely, THIS year, this will be the year I finally get my life in order.
Yet only after a few weeks, my physical representation of a "clean slate" gets merely tossed aside, only to end up underneath a stack of other forgotten things. I've been a poor steward of my own resolutions in the past, so truthfully I don't know what makes this year any different. There is always the possibility of failure, but for the first time in a long time, I feel the urge to ignore it, and strive to reach my goals anyway. This year, my list of resolutions is longer than it's ever been. Some are trivial (start doing yoga again, spend less time on social media) but others land on a more serious note (be more confident in myself as a mom and as a person, get help where I need it). As I was contemplating the year ahead, I tried to find one word to summarize everything I wanted to accomplish this year. I considered "happiness", "satisfied", "joy", but none seemed to resonate with me, until I recalled something I'd muttered to my husband late one night as we lay in bed after what seemed like an unending, relentlessly difficult day. 

"I feel like I've just been living each day just trying to make it through the day. But I don't want to just survive. I want to thrive."

   In my own little world, 2017 came in like a lamb. I was a few months pregnant and loving every minute of it, we were on the verge of buying our first home, my life had a flawless routine. I was in control, I was "happy". I love my husband, our marriage is wonderful, we had just announced our pregnancy and we were basking in the congratulations and well-wishes from friends and family. The future was a whole new world of things to look forward to - my life had a new drive, and a new sense of purpose. I've always been an anxious person - for as long as I can remember - and routine makes me feel incredibly balanced, and in control. As long as things are progressing as "normal", I can be "happy". I found my entire life's fulfillment in the success of my own plans, or so I thought. With the birth of our son, came the birth of myself as a mother, and the birth of Jack as a new dad. By God's grace my pregnancy, labor and delivery with Ezra was uneventful, and I felt as ready as ever to take on my new role with confidence: "new mom". I fell in love with my son the day he was born, and I love him more than I can express by any earthly means. I felt so prepared, I'd follow all the tips I read online, I'd swaddle like this, I'd rock him like that, I'd breastfeed, I'd baby wear - the whole nine-yards - all while still appearing effortlessly put-together. I'd be a "cool mom". I'd take my baby out to coffee, we'd stroll around town like a dynamic duo (it was summer, after all).  And then, as things do when a new baby arrives, my plans began to change. My baby didn't want to be swaddled. Breastfeeding was difficult, and it hurt. He was fussy. He arched his back when I held him and "tried to get away" as I'd always tearfully exclaim. Motherhood did not come gracefully to me, because hundreds of things that I could not control hurled at me like bricks, and my only "defense" and my confidence was there in the very thing that was crumbling down before me. Once Jack went back to work, I settled into a routine - the one thing that had once comforted me now haunted me. I hated being stuck inside, but it was too hot outside to try and tote Ezra around, and where would I go anyway? I hadn't changed out of my pajamas in four days, I wasn't exactly in any shape to be seen in public (by my own standards, anyways). Our family was and still is endlessly supportive and helpful, and I can not adequately express my gratitude for them during each and every season of life, but even in the midst of it all, I still felt alone.

Months went by, some days harder than others. Many days were lonely, and they still can be very lonely sometimes. Sometimes I feel disoriented and unsure. Some days I don't want to leave the house, other days I go crazy if I have to stay indoors. Some days I felt like a horrible mom, and some days I still do. The rollercoaster of emotions is exhausting. I went back to work in September after Ezra was born and it became another part of my routine that I once loved, but now dreaded. It's still difficult, especially as Ezra becomes more mobile, curious and demanding. I feel guilty dividing my attention between work and his infancy, which is escaping me rapidly, faster than I've ever expected. I've failed to record milestones in his baby book, and some days just that alone is what weighs heaviest on me. I know that changing your mindset and "starting over" doesn't have to be done at the beginning of a new year, but as January approached, I thought that this could be the most logically "perfect" time to make a change in my life, in my attitude, mental health, and my heart. I knew I needed a change. It wasn't fair that every word out of my mouth, every thought, and every action was influenced by this overbearing weight of doubt, fear, and anxiety that hung over me like a cloud. 

I adopted the word "thrive" for this year, because I don't want to look back on 2018 as yet ANOTHER year marked by fear and anxiety. I no longer want to accept my identity as someone who is helplessly anxious, scared, fearful, and timid, lacking confidence in myself as a mom, and as a person in general. The first part of the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of "thrive" says that this word means to "grow vigorously, or to flourish". The word "flourish" makes me think of my house plants - I have the opposite of a green thumb, and I've killed many house plants in my time (yes, even the "un-kill-ables"). There are a few that are still hanging on, simply because they were given the absolute bare minimum that they needed to survive: water (occasionally), sunlight (partially) and fresh air (indoors). They were still alive, but they weren't flourishing, they weren't flowering, they weren't lush, they were just alive. I feel like I lived most of 2017 being "just alive". Sleeping, Waking, Caring for Ezra, Cooking Dinner, Sleeping, Repeat - and nothing between the lines. BUT my fear and anxiety seem to have entangled me so much that I was unable to see that I don't NEED to live life being "just alive". I've struggled in my walk with God more this year than ever before in my life, and I'm not confident enough to elaborate further on that aspect, but I will say this: God's word tells us that we aren't given just "the minimum" - no, but that we are given abundant life in Him. I don't NEED to live overshadowed by fear and doubt. I don't NEED to constantly have a clouded mind and anxious thoughts.

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:9-10

    I want to live my life in 2018 in the abundance that Christ offers. I want to flourish and prosper where he has placed me, and in the season of life he has me walking through right now. Please do not get this confused with the false gospel of prosperity and material wealth through Christ - yes he can provide monetary wealth, but HE himself is our ultimate reward, our prize, he gives himself to us as the gift of abundant life, which cannot be found in material possessions, earthly circumstances or money. This year, I want to cut loose the snares of fear and anxiety - those that come along with motherhood, growing older, and our changing nation and world - and fully embrace and THRIVE in the life of abundance offered freely to me by Jesus Christ. I am not perfect, I don't have all of my ducks in a row - as I always love to be sure of before I even attempt something new - but I want to move forward in this new year appreciating each and every blessing, and taking every trial and challenge in stride. One verse that has been following me around over the last two weeks is one you are probably familiar with:

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future" Proverbs 31:25

   There is no checklist to complete, no pre-requisites, no small-print - I can accept freedom in Christ TODAY. Right here, right now, in all of my imperfections, and even in all of my fear and doubt. Sometimes those things don't go away on their own, and you need people to come along side of you and give you a little bit of help - and I am working on that part of it. Striving for perfection is only going to ensure that I am "surviving" this life, never measuring up, never feeling good enough, never being joyful. But choosing to thrive in the abundant life offered by Christ Jesus ensures that I can find joy in every situation, and a constant refuge when I am weak. In 2018 I want to become like the woman in this familiar Proverbs verse - not one who is unsure and doubtful, but one who is clothed in strength and dignity, with NO fear of the future!

   If you've ever been unsure about the life God has for you, or maybe you've felt lost as I have described in this post, please reach out to me, and I'd love to pray for you.

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Do you have a word for 2018? I'd love it if you'd share below!

10 comments:

  1. “Real.” People are put at ease when someone just acts real. Not polished, not perfect, but real. It makes me laugh when I’m around someone who has the guts to just say what we’re all thinking or to just own an embarrassing situation or a mistake that they made. Others are drawn to people who have the guts to be real. Not rude or uncaring, but accepting of self, of others, and of imperfection. I’m going to quit worrying about being perfect or what others think. I’m just going to be “real” in 2018.

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    1. Love this, thanks so much for sharing! It's so true that people are drawn to authenticity, it's a great thing to strive for this year, and always!

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  2. "I no longer want to accept my identity as someone who is helplessly anxious, scared, fearful, and timid" LOVE this! I've always struggled with anxiety, but it has no place in defining me. Have you ever read Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio? He talks about all the "giants" like that in our lives and how Jesus has already slain our giants & now we have to choose to live into the freedom of that promise.

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    1. I haven't read that book, but it sounds like I should definitely look into it! Thank you!

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  3. Wow Kate, thank you so much for your transparency. I relate to this so much as a mom and I love this quote "I want to move forward in this new year appreciating each and every blessing, and taking every trial and challenge in stride". This is definitely something I'd like to adapt for myself this year. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hey Brittney, I'm so glad to hear this resonated with you!

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  4. I love the word you chose for this year and I hope you thrive. Working full-time and being a momma has got to be hard and I hope you give yourself some grace in this season. Last year my word was flourish and even though I was not in the same situation, I had a lot of fear and anxiety I was working on too. So excited for 2017 :)

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    1. Thanks so much Autumn! I am so excited for what this year holds - I hope you continue to flourish in 2018!

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  5. "Thrive" is such a great word!! Thank you for sharing and encouraging your readers :) Hoping that 2018 is a great year!

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    1. Thanks Natalie, I hope it's a great one for you as well! :)

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