New Year’s Resolution: Choosing Reverence
I’m not sure I’ve ever made a new year’s resolution that I’ve kept. After many attempts at the endeavor throughout my younger years, I eventually decided that the whole thing just wasn’t for me. But this year something happened. I accidentally made one, kinda.
It didn’t happen in the traditional fashion. I didn’t set a goal for myself or commit to taking a specific action like going to the gym, meditating daily, changing my diet, or anything like that. I didn’t make a single promise to myself about what I was going to do differently in an effort to improve myself. I didn’t articulate or write out a list of plans, goals, or commitments. No, my resolution emerged quite unintentionally, from the quiet reaches of my mind on the eve of this year, seemingly out of nowhere, in the form of a single word. Just. One. Word.
Weeks earlier I was at the Dollar General when the clerk at the cash register asked me if I had had a good year. “Nope,” I told him. “It might have been the worst year of my life!” I said it playfully, laughing and smiling while I proclaimed this, but I knew I wasn’t kidding. I was exhausted, emotionally beaten down from a year’s worth of juggling so many responsibilities, long days at work, long days at home with toddlers (freaking-cute-and-sweet-toddlers, but still), financial stresses, and the pervasive sense that my family and I were barely treading water. Never enough sleep, never enough self-care, never enough you-name-it. I felt I had been working as hard as I possibly could, helping so many other people, wondering if I would ever be rewarded for my efforts. I felt spent.
When anyone makes a new year’s resolution, my guess is that it is with some measure of hope for renewal, the fresh start, like shaking an Etch-a-Sketch to erase all the crooked and squiggly lines to replace with cleaner and neater ones. My own resolution was probably much like this too, a calling out for rebirth or course correction. Yet mine came with no instructions or directives, no proverbial calls-to-action, no steps to follow. As I said, it was just one word.
Meaning. This was the word. And let me tell you, it caught me off-guard. Didn’t my life already have plenty of meaning? After all, I’m raising two amazing sons, enjoying a fantastic marriage, running a successful counseling clinic, maintaining a consistently full caseload of clients who apparently appreciate my guidance enough to keep coming back. How could my life be short on meaning? The suggestion from my subconscious that “meaning” would somehow repair my current lot seemed preposterous. Then it hit me.
It wasn’t meaning my life was lacking; it was a sense of meaning or rather a feeling of meaningfulness. The word I quickly found to better describe this was “reverence”. “Yes, my life has been missing reverence!” Once I discovered this, there it was, my new year’s resolution: a return to reverence.
Words cannot fully explain how my life has transformed since I made a choice to revere my life, just as it is. By setting this intention, to see all that I do and all that I am and all those around me as inherently meaningful, to emotionally open my heart to an experience of reverence for reality and my place within it, everything has since changed. I’ve fallen in love, deeply, such that many times each day I am moved now to tears, touched by a sense of beauty and humility, appreciation and connection. My life itself has changed little, and yet at the same time it is as if everything has changed. Rebirth. Renewal. Instantly, a return to reverence.
I used to think that a new year’s resolution was something to strive for, but not now. Now I see that a far greater opportunity exists for such an exercise. We can see the new year’s resolution not as a goal, but as a key to unlock a dormant or hidden part of ourselves. We can view the resolution less in terms of action and more in terms of something we value. For me it was reverence. For you it may be something else. Courage. Serenity. Patience. Helpfulness. Diligence. Any principle, any virtue.
By making such a pronouncement–a simple yet earnest reminder of this trait we value for ourselves–something happens. We automatically begin to embody more of this quality, just like that. It becomes a greater part of ourselves, not eventually, but right away. We are transformed. And, if we can carry this proclamation with us, we remain transformed. Our lives become more reverential, more courageous, more serene or patient, more helpful or diligent. And best of all, we never run the risk of failure. The success we seek isn’t achieved in the distant future; it’s achieved the instant we awaken this “new year’s resolution” within our spirit. It becomes alive within us.
As I write this, I feel again like the very best version of myself. Through reconnecting with my desire to “return to reverence”, I’ve returned to reverence, regaining an innocence about myself and my life that I never previously dreamt could be regained. It has exceeded my every expectation. I have not failed. I cannot fail. This is my life. This is life. And it is beautiful. And it is profound. And it is a thousand other things, all worthy of being cherished and honored.
Now I know. This is going to be the very best year of my life. Just over a week in, it already has been.
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