Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Goals and a word for 2013

I kid you not, I started writing "2012."  That year went by really fast.  So did January, which is why this is getting posted on the 30th and not the 1st.

Last year, I heard about the idea of choosing a single word to define what you wanted the next year to look like.  I chose "understanding."  I felt that if I sought first to understand rather than assume, judge, or leap into action, I would make fewer hasty mistakes.  Particularly I was thinking of understanding Marko, who was aggravating me constantly at that age.  I knew that most of his actions weren't motivated by intentional rebellion, but were coming from feelings he had that I was failing to understand.  When I would lose my temper at him, it was because I was making assumptions instead of asking myself why he did those things.

Working on understanding was very fruitful.  When I took the time to try, it was usually very easy to see what was going on.  He would spill an entire gallon of juice on the floor ... because he desperately wanted to be a big boy and do it all by himself, and didn't realize that it was too heavy for him.  He would melt down every day at 11 a.m. ... because breakfast was too small to last him till noon.  Trying to understand these things made me a lot more gentle and patient with him.

But it ended up going much further than Marko.  I tried to understand my husband, and realized (yet again) that he is his own person with his own issues, and that most of the time the things he did that offended me weren't about me at all.  I tried to understand liberals, and atheists, and traditionalists, and pacifists, and veterans, and I found that all of these efforts made me more kind, more open-minded, less quick to judge.  To paraphrase the Moody Blues, whenever I was angry, or knew hurt, or felt fear, it was because I was not understanding.

The trouble is that this will only take you so far.  Enbrethiliel has an absolutely gorgeous comment on the previous post about the dangers of putting yourself in other people's shoes.  The fact is that not all ideas are equal, and just because I understand where their advocates are coming from doesn't mean I should adopt all those ideas wholesale.

This year, and the past few months in particular, I've been feeling a kind of anxiety about the things I think and believe.  I'm beginning to realize that I don't know nearly as much as I think I know.  Especially this has affected my faith.  I have had an extensive religious education, more than most people ever get.  I read a good chunk of the catechism by the time I hit high school, went to a boarding school that spent more time on religion and related topics than all the other subjects put together, and then went to Christendom, which makes you take three years of core courses in theology AND philosophy.  I know a LOT about Catholic dogma.

But this knowledge has given me a kind of pride, as if I know God because I know about God.  The fact is that I don't.  God himself, what he is like, what he might say to me if he were sitting across the room for me right now, is a big puzzle.  It's not a puzzle I expect to have all figured out in this life.  But it's a puzzle worth working on, not worth shoving into a corner of my mind because my ignorance is so uncomfortable.

This is a long wind-up to telling you what my word for 2013 is.  The word is "seek."  I want to seek God.  I want to seek the truth.  I want to move on from open-mindedly considering viewpoints, and start sorting out the good from the bad and really finding out, to the extent my limited intellect can, what the truth is about everything.

Ambitious, no?

Meanwhile I have some really practical resolutions:

1.  Finish my novel.

2.  Finish my children's prayer book.

3.  Launch my home business.

4.  Grow more of my own food.

5.  Improve my physical fitness.  (Not by exercising per se.  But increasing my overall activity level and perhaps throwing in some squats or stretches when I have a moment.)

Not on the list, for the first time since I got married, is either "get pregnant" or "have a baby."  But you never do know.

What do you want to do in 2013?  (That is, in the other eleven months of it, yikes!)


Anonymous said...

Ambitious, yes! Did you really say," really finding out, to the extent my limited intellect can, what the truth is about everything?" I do think that's more than a year's project. I definitely like both year's goals, and the fact that you actually met your goal for last year. Have joy seeking truth. "I am the way, the Truth, and the Life;" "And the Truth shall set you free."

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila, I liked this post so much that I wrote one of my own. =) Whoever thought of having a word for the year to guide all one's resolutions was a genius!

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