Good day to you friend. It’s a new year. Some people make resolutions this time of year to improve on aspects of themselves and their lives. Other people don’t. Some of the dont’s go so far as to disparage the practice and sometimes those who do. But it seems to me that there is a basic cyclical nature to life, so regular seasons of renewal are part of the rhythm of our existence. I’m also inclined to self-evaluation and improving myself. Of course, I think what it is at work is more than self-improvement. I’m still a Pentecostal which means I think a couple of basic things:
- The Holy Spirit directs me to improve as a human being and empowers me to do so.
- This ‘improvement’ isn’t optional, it’s one of the main points of my life (we called it “holiness” back in the day)
So, yeah, I’m making a few resolutions for 2016. I’ve made a couple and I feel like one or two more will emerge from my consciousness (I think through things kind of slow and all the way). The first I announced on social media the other day:
New Year’s Resolutions often are for giving up bad habits, like smoking or cursing. I’m giving up theological arguments via social media. It’s a bad habit and I can break it.
This one’s going to be quite a test. I’m a member of a few online forums that engage in theological discussions and questions regularly appear on those that I do feel a legitimate need to offer an answer for. I think I can still do that and keep this resolution – if I leave it at my initial answer and not get into any back and forth. That’s what I’m giving up, the arguing back and forth, trying to defend myself against pushback and counterarguments. People can push back all they like. I don’t have to get drawn into all that. I may be splitting hairs already on this one and I’m sure I will slip up and get roped in a few times. But I am going to try because this is not life-giving for me. It robs me of my peace and focus and takes me out of the real world I am engaged in. (And I did have to leave one forum because arguing and drama was its only mode).
My second resolution this year is this right here: writing. I am a writer. It’s how I process things cognitively in the most concrete fashion. What I mean by that is I have to write to figure out what I think. Not an especially efficient process perhaps but there it is. The other way I think is to expose myself to something, research it, talk to people about it, experience it – and then let it bake in my subconscious. It will ruminate back there for however long and then, like toast popping out the toaster, the solution/what I think will jump into my consciousness and surprise me with what I think. Except sometimes I still have to sit down and write out the details of what that epiphany entails. I don’t think I’m at all unique in this mode of thinking but it has taken me years to come to terms with how my own process works. I was not very patient as a young man which made this sort of slow roasting intellect tough to deal with. But I’m learning to be patient with myself, more so as I write it out.
Part of what has delayed this process is I don’t always do the work of writing. Paying attention to my own history, it seems that I’m either writing a lot or none at all. 2013 was undoubtedly my high water mark. I wrote:
- the last 100 pages of my PhD dissertation
- my Red Letter Year series (5 days a week all year through the Gospels)
- my Lent Heart Prayer series (40 days of prayer reflections through Lent)
- Weekly sermons for Vineyard North
- class lectures for Meredith College and Wingate University
That’s a lot. And there were a few sundry things on the sides. I didn’t plan to do all that, it just sort of happened. Each project felt right or necessary at the time so I went with it. And I got them all done. I haven’t written nearly as much since then. The problem with that is, I’m not sure what I think since I’m not writing it out. I have books I very much need to write but they’re not getting done.
So here’s my second resolution for 2016: I’m going to write. A lot. Based on 2013, I’m thinking the more I commit to writing, the more I will write. I remember launching the Red Letter Year series and immediately feeling scared of that commitment. Write and post every weekday all year? That’s a huge commitment. And then people started reading them and liking them which was good but it also raised expectations and responsibility. Scary as it was, I think it set me in a writing mode that made all the rest come easier. You might call that a “flow state” but I’m still a Pentecostal and we shy away from language like that.
Well, there it is. I’ve spruced up the blog and I’ll be thinking out loud here everyday. I have no idea where this is going. Of course I don’t, I haven’t written it out yet. Thanks for reading and coming along for the ride.
Oh, and one more thing: AM Radio (the podcast I do with Amy) is coming back very soon. You’ll want to hear this next one.