Word for Word 2/7/18

Rev. Samantha Houser
Rev. Samantha Houser

It’s been a month since the New Year has rolled in and if you are like most people around the world who celebrated, you made some sort of resolution to bring in 2018.  But now that we are ALL the way into February you may have realized (like most people) that New Year’s Resolutions are often tricky.

Full of optimism and hope at the turn of a new leaf, we can enthusiastically set goals and hopes that are really tough or even unrealistic. Which is great if you’re the kind of person who, as Norman Vincent Peale famously said, are happy to “Shoot for the moon. Even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.”

But if landing among the stars leads to feelings of deep failure for you, then maybe a gentler approach would be helpful.

In my tradition, Christianity, grace is key: if God can forgive your lack of discipline, perhaps so can you. All God requires is that we keep trying, keep turning back toward love and justice. If the practice you chose January 1st is not working, maybe find a new one that fits your lifestyle better. There’s nothing magic about January 1st. The “magic” is in deepening your spirit.

Some of the most helpful spiritual resolutions I’ve heard folks make are to “spend more time IRL (in real life) with people and off of the social network of their choosing.” You could take an app off your phone, or just make it harder to get to by hiding it in a folder. So much of spirituality is about connection with God through others; being intentional about this can lead to great rewards.

You could also choose a spiritual reading to do daily or weekly, like read and meditate on a psalm, or do a “Bible-Passage-A-Day” plan. You could combine these and join a bible study or meditation group. For some, nature is the greatest teacher of spirit; maybe commit to a walk a week, alone or with someone who lifts your spirit (and holds you accountable).

Perhaps there is a spiritual malady that plagues you: guilt, apathy, busy-ness, hopelessness, fear of failure. This would be a great time to ask a spiritual leader for counseling or recommendations of reading to help you move through these sandpits and into greater wholeness.

Whatever you do, may the very action of pursuing greater spirituality bring its own blessings! Happy New Year! Or, if you must link it to something tangible and now-blessed Lent.

Peace and Grace,

Pastor Samantha Houser
Zion UCC

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