One of my New Year’s traditions is to read my journals (and now blog posts) of the past year, looking for themes I want to carry into the New Year. This year, I have also been reading journals from years past and gleaning insights into where God has called and led me. Some thoughts for going forward:
1) Lower my expectations of others. I usually realize I have expectations when they are unmet. When I feel disappointed or hurt or angry, I know I had expected someone to do or say something other than what happened. When I hear myself asking, “Who does that?” or “Who says that?” I know my expectations were not met. In those instances, I try to step back and remind myself I cannot control what other people say or do; I can only control my side of any transaction. Having more realistic expectations helps me to see and accept people for who they are. Having realistic expectations—or being able to adjust my expectations when necessary—is a step toward freedom from hurts and disappointments.
2) Have higher expectations of myself. A basic premise of Christianity is to think of others ahead of myself, and I want to be that kind of person. I want to have high expectations of myself that I will be kind and thoughtful; that I will listen to others’ stories and hear their joys and struggles; and that I will be understanding, compassionate and forgiving.
3) Let go. I often ponder this line from one of the Eucharistic prayers: “On the night he was betrayed, Jesus….” The image of being able to let go of betrayal so quickly that on the very night it happens I could turn around and give thanks and blessing is what I desire. This can only happen if I am continually practicing letting go of betrayals, hurts and disappointments and readjusting my expectations of myself and others.
4) Live in gratitude. Living in gratitude helps me to be aware of all the blessings in my life and reminds me that good triumphs over evil. I believe that every curse has a blessing, that something good can come out of any bad situation and that good needs to be lifted up and celebrated. Living in gratitude helps keep me focused on the inherent goodness of others and God’s abundant generosity.
5) Live in Holy Indifference. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians (4:12-13), “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” My goal is to have nothing to prove, nothing to fear and nothing to hide; I can only live that freely and transparently by trusting in the loving care of our generous God.
I try to live the life God created me to live, to be the person God created me to be. I practice every day.