Month: December 2014
This post is not for those of you that have a New Year’s resolution in mind already. It is meant for people that do not plan to make a resolution, yet still want to reflect on and shape the year ahead. If that is you, I suggest making a pledge instead. A New Year’s pledge reflects the beliefs and commitments that will guide your next year of life. Pledges don’t prescribe specific actions, but they do convey specific intentions. Below is an example of a New Year’s pledge. This example is especially helpful if you hope to serve more (or better) next year. See you in 2015!
Sample New Year’s Pledge
“This year, I will pay close attention to the things I enjoy and make me feel alive. I will take notice of those things especially if I do them better than most. I will properly recognize those things as God-given gifts. I will not diminish my gifts with false humility nor by trivializing them to be merely individual passions, hobbies or personality traits. I will see my gifts as rare and special and given to me on purpose. I will frequently remind myself that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I will honor God by finding ways to use my unique gifts to help others and to better this world. My good intentions will result in tangible actions and not just thoughts or words. I will use my gifts more this year than I used them last year.”
Please feel free to share this sample pledge broadly and to share your pledge with those you trust. Sharing increases your commitment. Happy New Year!
What are you pledging in 2015?
“Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies”
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a favorite Christmas carol every year. I pretend that I select this song myself, but really the song selects me. Shortly after Thanksgiving, I fire up my holiday playlists and wait to see what song I start singing in the shower or while standing in an elevator. This year that song is definitely “My Grown Up Christmas List.”
“Well, I’m all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I’m not a child
But my heart still can dream”
For many people, this holiday season is bittersweet. In the midst of a season known for peace and love we are bombarded with grief, sorrow, disappointment and even rage. For some they are dealing with personal tragedies and heartaches. Many others are fighting injustices. Even more are struggling with the painful loneliness that accompanies a guarded or closed heart.
“So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need”
I’ve been questioning the best way to celebrate my Christmas this year. Can I ignore those in pain and dive blindly into gift giving and decorating? Should I condemn the holiday festivities I love as trivial in a world with much more serious problems?
“But heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul”
Yet, I need holiday spirit this year more than ever. I need to remember what we are actually celebrating. Christmas marks the start of Jesus’ life, but as we all know, that life was not easy. It is a story with birth, enormous pain, death and ultimately renewed life. I need the reminder that our world can and will heal as we learn to love and serve each other better. I need to be reminded to celebrate the start of change even if the journey is just beginning. And most importantly, I need the reminder that there is a divine order that goes beyond my own understanding.
“No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end”
This year, it’s helped me to focus on what I’d add to my grown-up Christmas list. I’m celebrating believing that those things will one day arrive. Are you ready to celebrate the holidays? Is your heart open to the promise of healing and the promise of change? Are you inspired to serve?
What’s on your grown-up Christmas list?
I do a lot of cooking around the holidays. But most of my life, I hated to cook. It was a chore and something I thought I wasn’t good at. When I started dating my husband, I realized that home cooked meals were acts of service for him. Cooking for him has become a key way I remind myself that love requires action and work. I cook for him (and our family) regularly and with a joyful heart. I even dare to say I’ve gotten good at it over the years. Once you get motivated to do something, you usually get better and better with practice.
This is how I’d like you to think about your holiday giving strategy this year. You may already be feeling motived to give, but not sure how to do it in a way that has real and lasting impact. Some years you may have been content with kind acts of charity that reaped immediate rewards. These acts include things like toy drives and providing food for holiday meals. These are generous gestures and clearly quality ways to give. But this year, you may be ready to go a step further.
You may be asking yourself the following question:
- Do I want my impact on families to last longer than one holiday?
Which may lead to you to a question like:
- Why don’t the parents have enough money for food or toys?
Which may lead to you to a question like:
- Why don’t the parents have jobs that provide them with adequate financial resources?
Which may lead to you to more questions like:
- Are there quality mental health services in place to get parents employable again?
- Can parents truly focus on employment and education if they don’t have secure housing?
- Are there laws and systems in place so parents can earn a living wage?
This list doesn’t even begin to cover all the paths your questions could lead you to. It is just meant to show you how “peeling the onion” on needs may lead you to a giving strategy that goes beyond the holidays. It may lead you to a greater focus on social change and not just charity. You may still want to give food and toys to needy families which is great. Just give in a way that best aligns with the love and impact you hope to provide this holiday.
Happy Giving Tuesday Everyone!
I hope you will take a moment to share online how and where you give using #GivingTuesday. As a close friend of mine said this morning, “Let’s break the internet with something that matters!”