I am a New Year’s resolution addict.
Every year I make a set of goals and a plan to achieve them. Like 92% of Americans I fail and forget what my resolutions even were by the time I get to Valentine’s Day.
Tired of the vicious cycle of making non-transformative resolutions, on January 1, 2014 I looked out on the looming calendar NOT resolving to:
1. Lose weight
2. Run a half marathon
3. Move closer to the city
4. Get a promotion at work
5. Find the perfect guy
Yet I have done all of those things. I can pat myself on the back for being stronger, wiser, and more accomplished that I even wanted to be. But that is not what this is all about.
Rewind the clock 365 days. I was not looking to embark on another path of resolution failure. I found a blog about girl who said ‘NO’ to making cliché resolutions. Instead she chose one word to journal about for the entire year. She’d write down her thoughts about the word, quotes, things that happened in her life, anything that related to the word.
This was something I could get into. Now I just had to chose a word…
I was at a very good place in my life. I had a doting boyfriend, a good job, loving friends, and a healthy body. Everything was going so well that I felt guilty! This guilt of not having any struggles prevented me from fully enjoying those times. It was this guilt that inspired me to choose the word ‘SACRIFICE’ to study in 2014.
I pulled out an empty journal from my desk and wrote the word, SACRIFICE across the cover with a black sharpie. On the inside cover I wrote the definition:
Inside I began to fill the book with witty sayings,
Bible verses and names of people who demonstrated sacrifice.
I walked into this year blind and full of false expectations. I anticipated absolutely nothing that would happen over the next 12 months. There were things I thought I wanted. There were the things I thought I would get. None of that would actually happen.
Three weeks into my year of learning about ‘sacrifice’ I was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, and sent into the operating room…again. Two years after my first arthroscopic knee surgery I had managed to re-tear it. I’d have to go under the knife, this time to have it removed.
“You’ll probably get arthritis really young.” -doc, post operation
Not what you want to hear as a 20 something year old runner, skier and figure skater.
One month later my colleague quit, forcing me to take over her job as well as mine. I was reluctant and opposed to this change. It meant that I would now be the editor of the show as well as the public relations liaison. The responsibility was daunting and oppressing. I was overwhelmed.
Three months into this year of ‘sacrifice’ my boyfriend dumped me. I had never been more shocked in my life. At the time I didn’t comprehend that people change, or at least change how they feel about you. I can sit here and say that I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. I didn’t have the capacity to even think that way at the time. My life was on course. Nothing could derail that. Things would turn out exactly the way my 25 year old self thought they would, right? Turns out that decision wasn’t up to me.
Weeks after that happened I lost a friend. She didn’t die or anything, but our friendship was broken. I was hurt, and when you’re hurt it’s really easy to dwell on that. Once you start focusing on your sadness and how you’ve been wronged, things only get worse. I began walking down a path of bitterness and un-forgiveness, all the while saying I was neither of those things.
Halfway through this year of great ‘sacrifice’ life was nothing like I had planned.
I had no idea what I wanted anymore.
All I knew is that now it was summer, and I had a list of things to do, things I had never done before. I bought a ticket to my first country concert, went tubing down the creek by the mountains, drove a boat on the lake, and let strangers take me out on dates.
By the middle of summer I was having fun. I had totally forgotten about my journal of sacrifice and sorrow. I was living in the present and loving life.
I decided to put aside my selfishness and hurt to make amends with my friend. Finally I was sacrificing something. I can’t believe how many weeks and months it took for me to realize that sacrifice was not just a word for me to learn about but one that I might actually have to practice. I put aside my hurt and put on forgiveness. It wasn’t easy; but the more days I acted on that decision, the easier it became.
And then, I met someone. That person who irrevocably changed my perspective from the minute he opened the door of that yogurt shop. I knew that once we met my life was going to take a new course. He intensified the freshness and new outlook that I had been creating for myself. He asked me to look at things differently, so differently that I didn’t understand him at first.
“There is always a way, Jana. You are always making a choice for something; you can always change the thing you are choosing. From where I’m standing I can see it.
You can’t see it yet because you’re still on the wrong side of things.” -James
Now, as the days pass and we learn more about each other and I learn more about life I feel my horizons opening. I’m starting to see things with a new lens.
The possibilities for the future are boundless.
I can look back at the year saying three things:
1. I regret nothing that happened.
2. Whether you make change happen or someone else makes it happen for you, you still have to decide how to deal with it.
3. I still know nothing about what the word sacrifice really means.
God has undoubtedly worked in my life. He brought changes that made me angry, and that hurt but they were necessary to make room for the new good changes. I think that the word that best represents 2014 is CHANGE rather than sacrifice.
He orchestrated these changes, but ultimately I was the one that had to decide to accept those changes, bad and good in order to be where I am today.
Here’s to this year and the fires that made me shine.
Like most of them
2014 was a year of marriages and births,
separations and deaths,
tears of joy and of sorrow.
In 2015 I look forward to a new year,
a new word to learn about
and more changes that I can conceive of.