Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Word: Three Week Check In

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2, NLT (emphasis mine)

At the beginning of a new year, everyone seems to have their thoughts turned to transformation.  New habits are the common goal.  Like no other time of year, we crave getting rid of our bad behaviors and replacing them with constructive new practices.

Listening to experts is laughable.

In one 2009 study, a team from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre based at UCL Epidemiology and Public Health demonstrated that it takes an average of 66 days to form an addiction.   

In another article from 2009, psychologist Ian Newby-Clark scoffs at the notion of any specific standard in forming a new habit, but instead stresses repetition, repetition, repetition. 

Earlier this year, we talked about the notion of choosing One Word as your personal focus for the year, rather than trying to attack a long, unachievable list of resolutions.

For example, I chose the word ORDER as my 2014 One Word.

Accountability and mutual support increases success in reaching our goals, so today will mark our first check-in on this endeavor.  

Let me first ask, Have you chosen your One Word for the next 365?  If so, what word have you chosen, and why?

Next, let me share with you some brief nuggets on how the journey has looked for me with such a demanding word as ORDER:
  1. God has first shown me that ORDER begins with Him.  There is NO order in my life without Him in the driver's seat.  After all, isn't HE the one who created something called ORDER?  With all the demands of parenting 3 children with chronic diagnoses, working full-time, and having a husband whose employment has been up-ended, I am completely incapable of anything but attempting to manage total chaos.  My day must start before the kids get up, sitting quietly, reading God's word, and meditating on it for a bit.  My soul must begin in quiet reflection.  This demands that I set an alarm to get up at least 30 minutes earlier than the kids, or all I hear is "Mom!  Mom?  MOM!".  Starting my day like that is only swimming upstream when it comes to ORDER.  Of course, if I am getting up a bit earlier, I must also be conscientious enough to put limits on how late I stay up.  A tired mommy is not only a crazy mommy, but also one who is incapable of having anything to do with ORDER.
  2. God has shown me that this journey also begins with bringing ORDER to my thoughts.  With SO many demands on a mother's life, it is easy to have my thoughts race from this pressing issue to that, completely overwhelming myself.  Additionally, letting my mind wander to places of speculation, worry or assumption is entirely fruitless and even self-defeating.  Being deliberate about where I will or will not allow my mind to travel is foundational to any sort of ORDER.
  3. God has shown me that asking the right questions can help with ORDER.  I have written many times on the issue of boundaries.  When I examine a task or demand in my life with questions like, "How important is this in the big scheme of things?," "When will I be able to get at this?," "Even though this is good, should I really be taking this on?,"  "How will this benefit my family?," or "How does this fit in with my goal of ORDER?," I am much better able to set boundaries around what I will or will not do in any given day.
  4. God has shown me that ORDER takes place in bite-sized pieces.  "Once begun is half done," proclaimed Mary Poppins as she lead Jane and Michael Banks in cleaning the nursery.  The problem with beginning is that the task at hand can seem so insurmountably large, that we don't even know where to start.  In the past 3 weeks, God has accomplished ORDER in my life with things like putting Christmas photos in albums, separating hand-me-downs to keep for our youngest from clothes to go to charity, and getting through enormous piles of paper in my office all by chunking each of these jobs into smaller tasks.  This has helped calm my soul in ways that are beyond words.  Instead of the mountainous job of getting my whole house, my whole life in order at once, I am finding relief in attacking smaller pieces of the larger job.  That is forward movement!
So how about you?  What is God showing YOU about your One Word?  Might your One Word...
  • Start with God?
  • Also be controlled by your thought life?
  • Be helped by asking the right questions?
  • Make better progress in bite-sized pieces?
I will be praying that God doesn't leave you where He finds you this year.  Meanwhile, you pray about these questions as well.

PRAY:  LORD, thank You for showing me that I need to stop trying to transform myself apart from You.  I can't do this on my own.  Holy Spirit, point out the blank spaces of time in my life that I might be wasting.  Remind my forgetful mind to use those open spaces to meditate on my One Word for this year, and to listen quietly to what You are trying to teach me.  

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~ Barb Dittrich

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