Happy New Year. Now What? The last two years have left us wondering what’s next. We’re in a liminal phase waiting for something new to emerge. We hope to cross a threshold to a better room, but we don’t know how, and we don’t know where we’re going.
How do we craft meaningful New Year’s resolutions in the context of so many uncertainties?
According to the internet, the most common resolutions are exercise more, lose weight, get organized, learn a new hobby, live life to the fullest, save money, quit smoking, spend more time with family and friends, travel more, read more. We’ve probably heard these before.
When I hear these resolutions, I conjure an image of God and Lucifer. They go into a bar. God says, “Look at the humans, aren’t they cute? They make the same resolutions year after year, and nothing changes!” Lucifer says, “Hey God, have you heard this one? New Year’s resolutions go in one year and out the other.” God and Lucifer laugh and pony up to the bar.
All kidding aside, are we setting ourselves up for failure with the same old resolutions?
An article in Daily Good says New Year’s resolutions tend to be about wanting more of something we desire and/or less of something we do not, and while they surely have their noble side, they also often emanate from subtle and less subtle forms of perceived lack, scarcity, comparison, self-flagellation, and judgment. The “should” and “should not” messages we send ourselves when we make resolutions can be harsh and incriminating. These are qualities we may want to endeavor not to perpetuate and strengthen when we make our commitments this year.
Maybe our standard resolutions contain elements of brokenness that work against us.
To address this, the Daily Good article suggests we look at gratitude as a starting place for creating resolutions. I suggest we also consider worthiness and deserving. If we seat our intentions in a premise of already being worthy, of already deserving good, we are more likely to find lasting happiness and success.
About worthiness. Richard Rohr once said that religion has been an ongoing search to discover who is most unworthy. I don’t know – I haven’t studied every religion. But during my recent time off I binge-watched Downton Abbey, a show about English aristocrats and their servants.
The folks on Downton Abbey have epic definitions of worthy vs. unworthy, completely fabricated definitions held as unassailable truths. People who have proper income, lineage, gender, and sexual orientation are worthy. People who wear the right clothes to the right event are worthy. The Dowager Countess all but frothed at the mouth when Lord Grantham wore a black tie to a white tie event. Thank God she didn’t have Twitter, or we’d all be fussing about the Lord’s primitive attire.
It’s easy to see made-up symbols of worth when we look tv dramas. But we do the same thing all the time. Face it. We’re the Dowager Countess. We segregate everything and everyone into good/bad, worthy/not worthy.
The props of being human, the income, the exercise, the better body, are all fine. But Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and it’s righteousness.” Translated this means go for unitive consciousness. Know that everything is an incarnation of divine energy, that everyone is whole, worthy, and holy. Find righteous or right alignment with wholeness revealed. When we abide there “all things are added unto us.” The form of the manifestation doesn’t matter. We’re not attached. Rather, we enjoin with lasting happiness, independent of conditions.
If you choose to make New Year’s resolutions, how about creating one about worthiness? This year I inhabit the worthiness I am. Divine beloved, help me to reveal the worth of my being. Try that on and see what happens.
Then there’s deserving. Deserving is a close cousin to worthiness, but notable because so many people struggle with a sense of deserve-ability.
There’s song called “I was born to be happy. What happened?” We could also say “I was born deserving. What happened?” Circumstances, false belief systems, old patterns, and our tendency to cling to symbols hypnotized us into a necessary but troubling state of divine forgetfulness. We forgot our innate deserve-ability.
Here’s an old story about my perceived lack of deserving. I used to be a singer/actress. One of my gigs was in a national tour of a Broadway show. My husband and I were both in it. I had a small part, and I was the cat handler for the cat and her understudy. Yes, there was a live cat onstage. We were thrilled when we got cast. And then, I panicked.
I didn’t deserve this show! I knew my way around an opera stage, but all the other actors in this show had epic Broadway and regional theatre credits. They could converse learnedly about Shakespeare and David Mamet. And the cats, oh my goodness! I was not qualified to handle alternate cats in a tricky scene with a famous actress. I didn’t deserve to have a seat at that table! I didn’t belong! These thoughts swarmed around me like Pig-Pen’s cloud. Then something changed.
We previewed the show in New Haven and made plans to travel to Toronto for the opening. I knew getting animals into Canada could be tricky, so I scheduled a meeting with the company manager. He didn’t like me. He thought I was underqualified. He asked in an acerbic tone, how we would handle the international travel, to ensure that the cats wouldn’t get stuck at the border and miss their cue.
“I have three copies of all the health papers for both cats,” I replied. “One for my purse, one for their airport carriers, one for their inflight carriers. I had all the papers laminated.”
The company manager’s pupils dilated in a rush of respect. And I knew I belonged.
It wasn’t his validation of me that changed my reality. It was lamination consciousness. I knew in that moment, that I could anticipate needs and take care of business. “I can do this,” I said.
I like to say that I leapt from lamentation to lamination, but it was a process of changing my deserve-ability. When we first got cast and I panicked, I addressed fear with practice. I wrote a paragraph of affirmations. “I belong. I can do this. I deserve to be on this stage. My love for the cats will guide me. I deserve to be.” I read these words every day. Spiritual practice shifts inner reality then the inner shift leads to outer results. In this case, the shift led me to the Kinkos lamination station.
So again, as you’re planning New Year’s resolutions, how about considering deserve-ability? Truth be told, God doesn’t speak the language of deserving or not deserving. God just is, and we just are, and you are innately good. If you think you’re the exception to deserving, you are incorrect. Of course, sometimes we make bad choices and there are consequences. But grace is greater than any bad choice. Deserve-ability waits for us to accept life’s goodness. And think about it – can you name a child or an animal or a blade of grass that doesn’t deserve a good life? A life of happiness? Are you the only one who doesn’t deserve? I don’t think so. So as you create your resolutions this year, also say: This year, I know that I deserve all the goodness life has to offer. Divine beloved, help me to relax and accept the wonder that is mine. Help me to see deserve-ability in all beings.
New Year’s resolutions usually require will power. Will power is fine. But let’s also apply willingness power – willingness to surrender to the Holy One who knows you best. Willingness to the One who has given you everything. Willingness to be surprised by what the One can do through your “wild and precious” New Year. The real treasure in any resolution is a shift in consciousness, a move closer to wholeness, and a journey towards love in all things. This is possible for all of us – pandemic or not. It’s a threshold we can easily cross, from unworthy to worthy; from undeserving to deserving.
Happy New Year. Now What? Something wonderful. And so it is.