I have to start this post with an apology. In all likelihood none of you even noticed it’s been nearly two months since my last post, but I still feel like a loser for falling down on my blog job. It wasn’t laziness (okay, it’s wasn’t just laziness) that kept me away from my keyboard. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day the McLennan household endured not one but four bouts of illness, including the much dreaded flu. Ah, the joys of life with young, sweet, germ-spreading children.
Now that we’re all on the mend (I hope), I’m finally turning my attention to 2013. I’ll confess, I was a little depressed last week. I toasted the New Year from my sick bed with a glass of orange juice and grapefruit seed extract, and the closest I came to beginning 2013 as “the new me” was taking my first shower in three days. Not exactly a strong start.
Then again, maybe a change in tradition was exactly what I needed. I usually dive into the new year with the hype and energy of a Tony Little infomercial, touting a laundry list of impossible-to-keep resolutions that are guaranteed to make me feel like a failure by noon on January 1. Not so, this year. I was too worn out to conjure up any mind-blowing, life-changing, transformative strategies. Instead, I sat back and reevaluated my entire resolution philosophy. If you want to know what I discovered, come back in time with me a couple of weeks, to Christmas morning…
As always (only on Christmas), I was the first McLennan out of bed. Midnight, 3:15, 5:30…I made myself stay in bed until 6:00 a.m., and then I couldn’t stand it anymore! I snuck downstairs to make sure the Christmas lights and music were on before the kids woke up, and then took a peek at my stocking from Tim. He’d filled it to overflowing with tiny wrapped gifts, and next to it he’d placed three bow-bedecked bottles of household cleaner. I laughed out loud, anticipating the mileage I’d get from the fact that my husband gave me grease-cutting disinfectant solution for Christmas.
The “practical” gifts didn’t end there. Want to know what you get for Christmas when you’re married to a contractor? In the stocking: two utility knives, a package of replacement blades, and a double roll of duct tape. Under the tree: a battery charged vacuum cleaner, new drawer glides for our kitchen cabinets, and stain remover. (I thought the new broom and dustpan were for me, but I was wrong. He bought those for the children.)
Before you condemn my husband as the worst gift-giver ever, let me say with sincerity that I love these gifts. I’m all about practicality, and he knows it. He also knows what makes me tick, what I really need, and how much I doubt myself. That’s why one little gift touched me in a far more profound way than I’m sure he anticipated.
As a preamble, I’ll tell you that I’m a writer, which means I love putting words together, and I hate it. I can’t live without doing it, but I often find every possible excuse not to. Writing keeps me sane, scares me, gives me energy, and wears me out. (If you’re a writer, you know what I’m saying.) This love/hate relationship is the reason the novel I’m currently working on follows me around like a beautiful ghost, simultaneously terrifying and luring me. If I’m ever going to finish it, I need encouragement, discipline, and accountability.
Tim knows this, so he gave me a precious little brainstorming notebook, a new pen, and a crazy big Starbucks gift card for those peppermint mochas I love to buy each time I finish a chapter. Sweet and thoughtful, yes? But what really got me were the words he wrote on the gift card cover:
$100 to last until end of rough draft.
You can do it
I believe you are great!
(Better get moving)
He followed this gift with an even bigger one – giving me the week between Christmas and New Year’s to write every day without distraction while he took care of the kids. (Unfortunately, I only made it two days before coming down with the flu, so he ended up taking care of the kids and a sick wife.)
The first time I used the gift card, I almost tossed the cover, but then I changed my mind and slipped it into my computer bag so it would always be there to remind me of my husband’s support. He believes I can do it. He believes I am great. I can fly on those words.
And now, at long last, I come back to the topic of resolutions. The reason Tim’s gift was so empowering is that it spoke to who I am. I am a writer. All he did was encourage me to devote time and effort to being who I am. In the words of Gru, “Light bulb.”
So often we look at ourselves, especially this time of year, and think of all we’d like to change. And really, who couldn’t use some improvement? To say that I’m not big on the self-esteem movement would be a major understatement. All the talk about loving and believing in ourselves makes me gag. We’re all broken, and if we don’t acknowledge that, we’ll never get anywhere.
That being said, it’s also true that God has given each of us unique talent, knowledge, skill, and passion. What is yours? What are you good at? What do you love? Perhaps if my resolutions were more about fostering my God-given gifts than overcoming my weaknesses, I’d experience more victory in life.
So this year I’m resolving to accept what I’m not (skinny, popular, trendy, charismatic…), while appreciating and exploring the qualities God has woven into the fabric of me (introspective, detail-oriented, imaginative, sensitive…). And along the way I’ll be looking for ways to bless others with my uniquely created self.
Happy New Year, everyone!
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ~Dr. Seuss