Monday, January 14, 2013

2013: Another Year of Intentional Living

So, I know I am about three weeks late with the whole New Year's Resolutions thing, but I have a reason for that: I spent the lat two weeks reflecting on 2012 in order to better design my goals and expectations for 2013. Before I delve into this year's items, I need to share two thoughts really quickly.

I am not a huge of New Years' Resolutions. I believe that every day is the day in which you turn a corner in life, alter behavior, and improve. If you feel you need to lose weight, learn to cook, or begin a project, I see no reason to start later than the present simply for the calendar's sake. Your own life is one of the few things not bound to the calendar cycle, so why bother letting it be a determining factor in your betterment. If you are going to turn a corner, begin today--even if that means planning or brainstorming today and actually dieting or cooking on Thursday. Start planning the minute you decide to get it going, not necessarily in the New Year (that's how I try to live, anyway, but who says I am an example of anything).

That being said, the second thought was that I already have some in-process resolutions; or rather, a list that I call my "30x30": Thirty-things-to-do-following-my-thirtieth-year-of-living. I began this list prior to my birthday back in June, as a series of things about which I would be mindful in the first year of my thirties. I realize that this is essentially doing exactly what I said not to do in the prior paragraph, but in reality, these were things I had already begun to start prior to turning thirty but wanted to proactively continue and achieve prior to my next birthday (yeah, I didn't sell myself on that explanation either. I am basically doing the "New Years' Resolution Thing", just on a different annual basis).  I do not intend to share the list of the 30x30 in full right now, but I will give some highlights:

Begin Membership Process in New Church
Get Passport
Stay under 195 despite no Gym
Put 15K in Bank
Complete Children's Novella "Franklin Finnigan: The Fiddlin' Frog"
Complete Studyguide for Stronghold
Read 30 Books
Memorize 30 passages of Scripture
Develop 30 writing ideas to the stage of the 9-point outline
Develop Online Brand/Mission Strategy for Writing
Learn How to Grow Tomatoes
Learn How to Make Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies

For the last six months I have been working on things, and we'll revisit them come June 2013 to see how I stacked up. In the meantime, however, I have reflected on some of the stats I posted about 2012 Here and Here, and as a result, I have considered three items of intentionality for 2013.

Love my wife better by spending more time with her. Frankly, the fact that I must admit my need to be intentional about this is somewhat embarrassing, but truth be told, this in an area in which I need to improve. Bottom line. I'm not a lousy husband, but I'm no exemplar of Christ in relation to the church, either (sorry, best and most appropriate analogy I could hit on the spot). Anyway, I need to love my wife more intentionally in regard to her love language of quality time. My love language is stuff and encouragement...and stuff. I need to give her more of what she needs and fewer books, flowers, and kind words (though I don't intend to now hold those back). I just feel that, in this new year, I need to intentionally cultivate better habits of spending time engaged with her, not simply in the same room with her (we are very good at "proximity time" on our phones without having quality time face-to-face).

Be Generous toward others and stingy with myself (or at least, less generous with myself). I have a hobby budget. In 2012, I got $1 for every day that I did writing. I spent about $50 of it over the course of the year. So I have a carry forward balance. In 2013, I am giving myself a $.01 per minute, or 60 cents an hour. Now, last year, I spent that $50 on stuff for me that I didn't need but I wanted. Most of it found its way into a box for the better part of the year. In 2013, I would like to be more intentional with that money by doing for others what I love done for me--random gifts and impromptu fun. You know what would really be the ultimate test for me, actually, to use my fun/hobby budget to only make purchases for others. I know that sounds easy, but for me it would prove extremely difficult. Perhaps I will cross that hurdle in 2014. In the present, however, I will maintain intentionality on a 1:1 basis, for every item I buy myself with these funds, I will also buy a random gift for another. We'll see how that goes. Hold me to it come December.

Here is another doozy. Watch films with others, read while alone. About 7 years ago, I had a different blog, and a former youth leader of mine publicly criticized me for valuing entertainment over Christ. What developed thereafter is a major discussion that could take a whole post, but the bottom line is that he was right, in a sense; and I have tried to curb my media intake as a result over the last several years. Based on the information posted here, you may think that I have failed, but if you think so, you have no idea where I was at in 2005. Needless to say, however, this is an area in which I still need to work. Hence, in 2013, I simply won't watch TV or films alone. I will watch them with persons with whom I can discuss them, or I will not watch them at all. Rather, I will read. Writers need to do that don't they? I want to see how that cuts down my intake.

Now, I know some people may read these items of intentionality and cry from the rooftops, "legalism!" and to them, I respond, "yes!". Fact is, the legalistic nature of the Old Testament was a specific model given by God for a specific people in a specific time, and Christians live under grace before God now. I agree with this; however, I also feel that the American church has reacted to our previously legalistic community standards in the states in such a fashion as to diminish the value of legalism as course correction and discipline. I am wholly aware that legalism can lead to pharisaic judgmentalism, pride, and unnecessary stress; but I believe that a mature individual can set for themselves parameters, goals, and standards on specific issues in order to further their personal relationship with God, better develop habits of value, and increase their love of others. Legalism, in that sense anyway, can prove wholly useful.

I think that these three things, in addition to my 30x30 will lead to a very productive 2013. At least that is my desire. Readers, God has given us a great gift in life. To live, and have health on top of it, is such an immense blessing, and I must admit that the closer I draw to God, the more I have a sense of ethical responsibility to live my life well, with intentionality and purpose in his kingdom work. I hope you feel the same.

Thank you for reading,

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