A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me to make liturgical new year’s resolutions for 2022 rather than waiting until January 1. After all, if the Church is to be the center of my life, why not begin anew when the Church’s year does? (I later saw that Ava Lalor over at Our Sunday Visitor and Radiant had the same thought. She shared some ideas that you might want to check out here.)
I should say that I know new year’s resolutions rarely work out. Also, at least for the last couple of years, my resolutions, like my “word of the year,” have been handed to me by God—often in a way that is very challenging. (2020 was detachment, a lesson I began learning even before COVID upended our wedding plans. 2021 was surrender, because pregnancy and new motherhood are the hardest things I’ve ever done, and they forced me to start learning to let go of control and depend on God.)
That said, I like trying to set goals, even if my weakness (or God’s plans) change them. So, here’s what I want to try this year:
1. Learn to Be Silent
In the interest of learning to become more contemplative and give God the silence to speak to me (usually, he has to hit me over the head with something before I hear him), I will start practicing silence. Five minutes to begin with, just trying to listen to God. Silence has always been uncomfortable for me; I get bored easily and despise boredom to an unhealthy degree, and I’m also always afraid that silence will give me the opportunity to start spiraling in anxious thoughts.
So, five minutes at a time. Five minutes of silence, of letting my mind wander but then bringing it back, of trying to hear God’s voice. Maybe, by next Advent, I’ll be more comfortable with it.
2. Focus on Patience
Patience is not a virtue that has ever come easily to me—patience with myself or with others. I was kind of hoping I’d magically become more patient when I became a mother, but motherhood, like holiness, is not easy. My daughter needs to see my enthusiasm for her existence, not my impatience with her.
When she wakes up from her naps, I always smile at her when I pick her up from her crib (it’s hard not to; she’s always so excited to see me!). Step 1 in learning to be a more patient mother is to smile before she can see me. Fake it till you make it, right? Smiling makes you feel happier despite yourself, and it reminds me just how overjoyed I am to be a mother, even when I’m being interrupted.
I’m also going to work on being more patient with myself. I’m a perfectionist by nature, but I’ve come to learn that perfectionism is rooted in pride (why do I expect myself to be perfect rather than relying on God?). If God is merciful and patient with me, why can’t I be merciful and patient with myself? If God forgives me, why can’t I forgive myself? So, every time I think, “I’m a terrible mother,” I’m going to let that thought be a trigger that what I’m feeling is based on perfectionism, not reality.
3. Exercise More
Pregnancy and the postpartum period are never easy, but the last year has taught me just how woefully out of shape I am. Had I been in better shape before I got pregnant, pregnancy may have been easier, and my fibromyalgia might be easier to manage now. I don’t know if or when God will give us another child, but I can be in better shape now for the one I already have. Then, if and when I am pregnant again (and chasing after a toddler or a young child at the same time!), maybe it will be easier to handle.
I’ll start small, though: daily pushups and squats, continuing my long walks with my husband and the baby, working my way up to doing SoulCore workouts again (my mom and I got into SoulCore during lockdown last year). As Catholics, we believe that the body is good. It’s time for me to live up to that belief by taking better care of mine.
4. Read the Bible in a Year
I’ve always wanted to read the Bible more, but I’ll admit that even for someone who loves reading as much as I do, it was difficult to get into. Recently, though, I’ve been reading the daily readings each morning with my daughter, and it’s giving me a new appreciation for Scripture. I finally understand just how precious it is—a book full of messages from God! Why aren’t we more excited about it?
Meg Hunter-Kilmer has a “Bible in a Year” reading plan that I’m going to attempt this year. It may be too much reading to do with my daughter at once, so I may continue with the daily readings with her. But I can’t wait to dive in and hear more of God’s word.
5. Go to Daily Mass (at Least Occasionally)
It’s a win-win: I get to go to Mass more often, and my daughter gets more exposure to Mass and gets used to being there (I have a feeling once she starts crawling, her current peace during Mass will be no more). I’m not fooling myself: There will many, many times that I wonder why I’m going to Mass with a baby on a day I’m not obligated to. But, it seems like it’s worth the effort—for her sake as well as mine.
What are your new year’s resolutions? Have you ever made a resolution that you stuck to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!