I hate New Year’s resolutions. There I said it. Maybe it’s because I am limping into 2016 after a rough year. Maybe it’s because my house is torpedoed and we’re broke and exhausted after the holidays. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of making goals and failing. Whatever it is, I cringe inwardly when I think about it — the same kind of cringing my husband does when tax time is upon us.
I do want to live intentionally, though, and the new year has me thinking about resolving to be the kind of woman God wants me to be. Here are some core thoughts the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about.
1. Be the woman who dares to be real though the world demands a happy front.
Maintaining a socially acceptable equilibrium by always answering, “Things are fine,” may satisfy others, but it is not truth they can hang their hat on when life falls apart. Nor is it believable. Nor is it representative of anyone’s daily life. So I’m asking the Lord to help me be appropriately authentic in all my relationships. I love what J.C. Ryle, author and minister in the Church of England during the 1800’s, said, “Never be content to wear a cloak of religion. Be all that you profess. Though you may err, be real. Though you may stumble, be true. Keep this principle continually before your eyes and it will be well with your soul throughout your journey from grace to glory.” Yes and amen. Lord, please help me to be true and real with all those You’ve placed in my life to serve.
2. Be the woman who stays for the hard conversations when most leave.
Sharing something real either stops a conversation in its tracks or starts one. We’ve all been there. I experienced this most after our son was delivered stillborn. Many times, I summoned all the courage I possessed to share the truth with another and regretted it almost instantly. I could see fear in their eyes. They were already gone before the conversation started. I’m ashamed to admit that I, too, have let fear or inconvenience dictate my responses or lack thereof.
God has something better in mind. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Jesus is at home with the very hard of life. Because His Spirit lives in us, we can be too — even when we don’t have the answers. May the Lord help us to choose His fearless, courageous love and stay for the hard conversations of life.
3. Be the woman who chooses sincere compassion when tempted to fake it.
If we choose to fearlessly love, we must also choose to sincerely love. Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be without hypocrisy.” I was reminded of this when an acquaintance recently shared her heartache over watching her parents age and decline. Tired from the day and a sleepless night, I found myself nodding in faked sentiment. The Lord corrected me, “Julie, this woman’s pain matters to me. Do the best you can to hear her heart and show her love for My sake.” His words changed my response and more importantly, my heart. Lord, we speak so much of compassion, but resist it when it costs us something of value. Please help me live it well especially when it inconveniences me.
4. Be the woman who surrenders to the guttural sanctification process of humility when it’s easier to pay lip service to it.
We talk about humility a lot in the church, but let’s face it — it’s not easy to live. This often comes into play for me when I’m being corrected or when conflict of any kind arises. Proverbs is filled with verses about humility. It is the foundation of every good thing — a good marriage, parenting relationship, friendship or relationship with God. Intimacy grows deep roots when planted in the fertile soil of humility and brokenness. May I grow these roots well even when it pushes against my own flesh. May it cause me to be more like my Jesus who chose a humble life and an even more humble death for our sake.
Speaking of humility, I ran across a book recently that captured my attention. Ray and Betty Whipps detail their love story amid the challenges of World War 2 in the book, ‘Til We Meet Again. Married for over 70 years, Ray offers a priceless piece of advice for us all, “If you’ll allow an old man a final moment to preach, I will leave you with this simple bit of advice — the best I have:
Use your whole heart.
Use all of it when you fall in love.
Use every part of it to raise your family.
Use all of it to trust God.
Use it to be strong.
Use it to be of good courage.
Use it to fight fear.
And use it to believe that wherever you are, God is with you.”
Wow! Simple, priceless and profound truth to meditate on for years to come.
So I may not be cranking out a list of things to do this year, but I do want to intentionally focus my life upon these key truths. May 2016 bring each of us many opportunities to be the women who live real and wholehearted lives before the Lord and in so doing — change the world around us for His sake.