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Reflections From a Reformed Resolution Setter, by Heidi Barrett

Most years, I would give a halfhearted attempt at a New Year’s Resolution. There were the years I wrote down practically a novella of resolution and the years where I would choose one resolution. I had sound reasoning behind making the novella of resolutions or focusing on just one resolution. The novella resolutions left me with the feeling I had choices and perhaps I would keep one or two or even three resolutions for the entire year. But on the other hand, choosing one resolution gave me less to focus on, and of course, I could keep one New Year’s Resolution for an entire year. I knew me keeping the resolution was an attainable goal if the year started on January 1st, and the year ended on January 2nd .

How could I possibly be accountable for 365 days of the year?

Having multiple children with multiple chronic diseases can be at times, overwhelming, and at times all-encompassing. Life started to drag me down. It was more then simply not being able to keep one or more New Year's Resolutions. I was rotely going through the paces of life. I was not clinically depressed, but I was hardly showing up to participate in life. My best friend became my phone. My phone and I would spend vast portions of the day reading such highbrow articles as 'how to make your eyelashes look longer', or 'are you a dragon or unicorn?' This was information I needed to know. I had no idea if I was a dragon or a unicorn. At times, I would only half-listen to whomever was speaking to me because I was busy reading the latest article on Yahoo. I would use the excuse that I needed my phone to help pass the time away at the many appointments we had each week. I was unhappy and empty.

My wake-up call finally came on the cusp of one Lent. I had what I thought was a minor problem with vision in my eye; dry eye perhaps? When I tried to make an appointment for the eye doctor, the eye tech insisted I come in that day. I argued it could wait. I had to be at the airport for a trip in just a few hours. I could see the doctor when I got back in town. But a calmness came over me during the conversation and I found myself agreeing to come in right away. The eye doctor found a splinter of wood in my eye that day. I had been carrying around that splinter of wood in my eye for over 6 months. It was very biblical.

Part of my recovery included limited screen time. My best friend the phone and I broke up. There would be no more aimless hours of scrolling. I would no longer know if I was more like a dragon or more like a unicorn. God had given me the gift of a piece of wood in my eye. I had time to pray. I had time to listen. I had time to think. I took stock of my life.

Instead of me setting New Year’s Resolutions based on what I wanted, I took a time out. I asked God, what do you want for me? Having put God first in my life, I asked God what He would like me to accomplish in the upcoming year. Spiritually, I have been blessed with a parish that has an active Sacred Story Group ( Our Parish was chosen by Father Watson, the founder of Sacred Story Institute, to beta test the prayer program Sacred Story. Father Watson was asking for a bi-monthly commitment, something I felt I could not give. I lived at the time too far out from our parish. At times I have difficulties driving because of my autoimmune disease. I wanted to participate in this program. I prayed and God opened a door, a house dropped into our lap with no effort on our part. We now live

within walking distance of our parish. I love Sacred Story. It has enriched my prayer life and has brought inner peace. Last year though, I was unable to participate in Sacred Story because of another commitment at the same time. I brought it to God. I did not mention to anyone what was holding me back from attending the one-hour weekly meetings. After seven years of being at the same time and day, this year Sacred Story changed day and time. I once again have the support of the group.

Even though much of our daily living is overwhelmed with the medical needs of my children and myself, it is not our sole focus. Having the “log” removed from my eye has brought me freedom. I have to make my time on electronic devices count so no more aimless scrolling. I get to do more of the things I love, like reading. My resolutions have become attainable thanks to the grace of God. Sure, there are times I slip and I try to spend time with my frenemy the phone, but within a very short time, my eye starts to throb and things become blurry and then I remember. I remember the gift that God has given me. It is a gift of a full life filled with wonderful friends and family. I no longer feel the need to make silly New Year’s Resolutions. For the record, no one has ever asked me if I am a dragon or unicorn and I am quite alright with never knowing.

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