There are two times a year when I think about resolutions: in November, my birth month and April, the month of my wedding anniversary. November is a way to start earlier with the resolutions most people make in January for the upcoming year. It takes time for me to get into gear. April, then, serves as an internal check-in on already-set goals. When I think about this year’s hopes and expectations, I think about two things I’ll share here.
First patience. I have more patience than I used to, but that’s not saying much. Already I can tell that life, God, the devil, and everybody else are playing a part in stretching me into a more patient person. When I noticed patience as something I needed to attend to, I thought I’d be restricted to getting in the slow lane on the expressway, watching my coworkers—including David Swanson who drives like he’s ninety—speed by, and following cars that drove under the posted limit. Sometimes I do this since it really does help me rush less and go slower.
I thought it would have to do with showing up early and managing time. But I don’t need those disciplines. I have many ways be patient like being generous with time when I’m sitting with someone, refraining from interrupting somebody talking, praying about my frustrations from unsatisfied ambition, and taking a deep breath before I write an email response to someone I think is misguided or careless or wrong.
Joy is second. I think joy springs in the midst of situations that make me anxious. I’m good at anxious. Anxious is the broad sentiment that keeps me searching. It gifts me with the ability to be critical, to ask good questions, and to stay with something or someone. These things are good about anxious. But there are bad things.
The first is that rumble in my stomach when the mechanic asks me to follow him back to the bay where my eleven-year old civic is suspended —does he ever have good news in such circumstances? It’s the natural feeling of worry, or concern even, that doesn’t go away. Or it’s the response in my heart or my belly that either will make me pray or make me fret.
My spiritual director would say there is an invitation to the feeling of anxiety. I think it’s an invite to “joy’s party.” And I’m looking forward to joy coming this year, even if it has to push against the pit in my stomach when I start my car.