It’s not even almost, but completely, clichéd the way we set out at the beginning of every year to become new people.
My resolutions over the last decade have largely remained the same—to exercise, to stop raising my voice at my children, to read my Bible more often and believe what it says, to love my husband, to get over the past. Yada, yada, yada.
By the end of the year, however, most of those habits are often left unchanged, swallowed up by the greater desire to sit on the couch and eat whatever I please while watching Dr. Phil, hollering at my four kids to stop fighting, angry at myself for not reading the Bible that morning because I was too busy nagging my husband about something he said to me in 2002.
But last year was different. The year before had been one of great change, of moving to a new city and acclimating my children to a new home and a new school, new routines, a new life. A stressful 2012 by any stretch, I crawled into 2013 begging for a little peace. I longed to have a year of ease and joy, the previous year being marked by a depletion of my energies and senses.
I didn’t get a stress-less 2013. In many ways, 12 months brought new problems: shaky marital dynamics, family of origin relationships that needed to be nursed and mended. Crumbling finances lent themselves to stomach aches, despite our blessings of financial gain.
I made a lot of mistakes last year. But I made some profound choices as well.
I made a choice to go ‘all in’ with God, to fully believe His Word and His Promises, which are always good, even in the face-slapping bewilderment of misunderstanding what ‘good’ really is. I finally embraced this gift called ‘marriage,’ something that for twelve years I hadn’t fully allowed myself to do out of a fear of repeating my parents’ mistakes. I forgave my mom and dad because I hoped one day my children would forgive me—as Christians, it’s what we’re commanded to do. I decided to spend more time being graceful to my children and husband, less time being so hard on myself.
I walked my dog through the city at the first of the year. The morning was chilly, but the sun shining brightly forced the air to feel more like a cool spring day than one of the colder days of winter. I chose the unbeaten path, through woods and down foot-borne trails, as opposed to concrete sidewalks. Feeling dead leaves crunch underneath my boots while I walked, watching my collie sniff every inch of ground, like she hadn’t been taken outside at all the previous year, the sight of bright white clouds and turquoise blue skies and the golden sun beating down, brought me to a place of insane peace and contentment, a feeling I’d lacked almost every day of the year before.
We make a lot of choices over the course of a year, 12 months of decisions about life, love, the past, and the future, and mainly the present. If we can let the past go and not worry about the future, the present is all the sweeter, ready to be savored, not taken lightly until it too becomes just another product of the past, a memory we wish to hold onto or do over again.
The only resolution I made this year was to pause in those moments of reflection and thank God for the many gifts He’s given me, both perfect and imperfect. To remember life as it was, as it is now, and how I believe it will always be: a series of memories, waiting to teach us something new.
Toni Overby is wife to Clay and mother to Haeden, Ryleigh, Hogan, and Remi. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi, and attempts to write in between chasing her kids and watching the Rebels play.