This year I'm trying out a phrase instead of a resolution. The phrase de l'année is Good for Good! It's kind of vague, yes, but that's because I had to fit a lot of idea into three words. The gist is this: Taking care of my self is important because it better enables me to serve and love others. Physically, I need to take care of my body through rest, nutrition, and exercise. Spiritually and mentally, I need to spend time God with through constant prayer, Scripture, and reflection. The end goal isn't self-actualization, though that's a bonus of being a Jesus-lovin-son-of-a-gun. The actual goal isn't me; the actual goal is to be more ready and fully capable of participating in God's plan. The Kingdom of God. The coolest thing.
This Good for Good phrase came to me in an embarrassing way. There have been multiple times in the last few months in which my kids wanted to play with me. But, I couldn't physically play because I wasn't taking care of myself. I couldn't get down on the ground or swing from the playground equipment because I physically felt too nauseated from my diet, or just too tired. I'm only my 30s. What a wakeup call. It got me thinking about other areas of my life in which I'm not giving my best because I can't. It's disappointing to realize a lot of people aren't getting the best version of me.
That's difference between Good for Good and resolutions I've always failed at, like wearing certain jeans or a certain jacket that used to fit in 2005. There is a more explicit purpose that I care deeply about. I'm trying to keep the phrase at the back of my mind when I make decisions. So far I've had mixed results, but I'm glad the thought it always there.
A few years ago our friend Jen gave Sam and I a copy of Marge Piercy's poem "To Be of Use" as a present. It was meaningful gift, and I've always kept it close. It says better than I could what I'm striving for. Here's a chunk:
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,Help me figure out how to be of use! What tips do you have?
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.