I remember reading a story when I was a child where someone comes upon his friends and tells them, “I just saw the best thing in the whole wide world!” They follow where he is pointing and they go and search long and hard all day, puzzling all the while about what the “best thing in the world” could possibly be. A treasure? A beautiful picture? A feast? Finally they come back exhausted. The first friend sees them again and asks, “Well, did you find it?” Tiredly, they shake their heads. He looks puzzled and points again at another friend, who has been sitting on his porch not too far away, simply enjoying the day. “There,” he said, “it’s contentment.”
We are bombarded with input about who we should be, what we should have, how we should be spending our lives. In the New Year, we are constantly asked if we have made resolutions, set goals, and made plans for the coming year. Our culture is obsessed with the next best thing and the next best “me.”
New Year’s resolutions can be wonderful things. I want to take more time to enjoy life. I want to be healthier. I want to sleep more. I want to spend more time with my family, with my friends, and less time at work. It is important to set goals and to figure out how to achieve them.
However, too often, we spend too much time on our resolutions and we forget the old adage that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have, and this not only about material things, but about ourselves as well. It is ridding yourself of the self-loathing and the self-critique, and instead recognizing the truths about who you are.
For me, each year, it means that I have to remember that I don’t need to succeed or achieve to have worth. I don’t need to be perfect; I don’t need to prove myself again and again; and it is okay if I let people down. I am so blessed to have a husband who constantly reminds me that he places no expectations on me, and all the more so, Christ places no expectations on me of achieving greatness for Him. He loves me just as I am, because “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; [His] works are wonderful” (Psalm 139:14).
For you and many other women, it might mean that you need to remember and recognize that you are beautiful. The Beauty Revolution started on January 1, in which women started to shed their makeup for social media, posting makeup-less pictures of themselves on Facebook. Does the thought make you feel naked? Exposed? What about if you don’t drop the pounds you gained last year?
It doesn’t matter. God is saying to you, “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places of the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:14). Remember that you are beautiful.
For others of you, it might mean that you need to remember that your worth is not in your children, not in your husband, not in having a family, but simply in Christ. When your children mess up, when your marriage is in disarray, or when your nosy aunt asks you why you are still single, remember that you are still valuable, you still have worth, and you are still beloved by your heavenly Father who has called us His children (1 John 3:1).
Before Jesus began his ministry, God reminded Him of who He was: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). He was grounded in His identity first, and so too should we. Be content in who you are, not because of your accomplishments, your appearance, your family or your health, but because of who you are in Christ. This year, hear truth firs, before you march forward to achieve your resolutions.
Several years ago my aunt gave me Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen, saying that she likes to read it at least every couple years, if not every year, to remind herself of the truths about herself. I’ve read it now a couple of times, and have been blessed by Nouwen’s simple words. I leave you with his reminder:
“… all I want to say to you is ‘you are the Beloved,’ and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being – ‘You are the Beloved.’” ~ Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved