I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for resolutions. It could be a lifetime of sports and goal-setting drilled in to me, it could be the “help me help you” tendencies of my INFJ-ness, or it could very well be that I came out of the womb leaning a bit too far to the people-pleasing side and being an achiever helped me accomplish just that (and yes, I’m working hard on the shadow-side of all that neediness). But taken all together, I love having a list of things to set my eyes on, and I super love checking things off of those lists.
I am in full agreement with Socrates when he said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” The discipline of introspection, and then the conviction and repentance that follows for me, has been such a big piece of my life in the last decade – as a writer in the last seven years, but much more so as a wife, a mom, and a follower of Christ. My days begin with the space to think. They just have to for me – in the quiet, before anyone else is up, working around thoughts in my head about scripture, about Jesus, about words and meanings, about my children and my husband and whether or not I am stewarding these things in a manner that is honoring to God and reflective of who this is all for anyway. Examining who I actually am and how I actually live, holding that up to who I want to be, and then submitting that to the guidance and direction of God’s Word is a pattern of sanctification that I want on repeat in the cadence of my days.
Because usually, when that’s happening, I see how badly I am missing the mark.
The gospel becomes even more beautiful when you really see that.
I have been going through this goal-planner again this year, and one of the things you are asked to do is choose a word for the year. I wrote down about a dozen to start with, things like diligence, joy, learn, family, and trustworthy. And then the word consistent came to mind, and I could not let it go.
Consistent means to be marked by harmony, regularity or steady continuity. It is a characteristic given to someone or something that is free from variation or contradiction, showing steady conformity to character, profession, belief, or custom. And consistent is everything I want to be.
When I get real introspective, and real honest, and I take apart the big pieces of my life, I can see just how in-consistent I really am. My mood - and my actions to follow - can shift and change a few dozen times a day based on things like social media (do people like me?), how Cannon did at therapy (do people see how hard we are working?), whether or not a friend got back to me (am I important to her?), and other big, life-altering (ha!) things like that. I love my husband inconsistently, usually showing him respect and displaying affection well for him when I am having a particularly good day myself. I parent my children inconsistently, again, usually doing the hard work of teaching and disciplining well and getting on the floor to play with them when I am having a particularly good day myself. And I celebrate others inconsistently – would it shock you to know that I usually do that much better when I am having a particularly good day myself?
I’m seeing the pattern, and here is what it is teaching me: when my consistency is built around me and my day, it will be anything but marked by steady continuity.
But if the consistency of my life is built around the only One that never changes, I think I’ll have a fighting chance. Jesus has to be my steady. And the gospel has to be the thermostat of my marriage, my parenting, and the way I love others.
Consistent means to me that I am not a walking contradiction, saying one thing but living out another. It means that I am the same person to everyone; whether she is like me or not, whether he is easy to love or not, whether she can give me anything in return or not. The partiality of the world we live in is feeling further and further from a kingdom-mindset to me all the time – perhaps that is because it is? It means that what someone sees on social media is what they will see in real life. It means that my husband will not have to guess how loved he is going to be on a particular day. It means that my children will remember their mom as someone who was the same to them in the public eyes of the church lobby and the private hallways of our home at night. And it means the work I do in this world will reflect the only investments that will always, always bring a good return: God’s Word, and God’s people.
So this year, my prayer and goal is that the mark of my life is consistency. That my joy is contingent on the unchanging good news of the gospel and not the trending good or bad news of any particular day. That others know what they can expect from me. That my heart never loses the awe that I am saved by grace and not by merit. And that I am unwavering in my pursuit of seeing and savoring the goodness and glory of God in my every day, walking around, mothering and errand-running, cleaning and writing, bill-paying and diaper-changing life.