Monday, January 02, 2017

A new year effort to improve

It is Monday, January 2, 2017.

A new year has begun. I am human, therefore, I feel compelled to do something different with this new year. Something to improve my life. Something to make a change in how I live and work and have my being.

Yesterday, I preached a sermon that borrowed the text from Mark 12:28-34. It is Mark's account of the scribe asking Jesus which commandment is the greatest. The response - The Lord our God is one. You will love the Lord your God with all that you are. The second is that you will love your neighbor as yourself.

I say that I borrowed that text because I used it to talk about how we can improve ourselves using Jesus' description of self - heart, soul, mind, and body. In order to connect with the contemporary listener, I used the most familiar understanding of those English words instead of the Greek/ANE understanding.

It was my hope to offer direction for listeners, and myself, to pursue improvement in one or more of the 4 arenas of self. I offered that we could improve ourselves in heart being the icon of emotions, soul as the intangible elements of living (joy, peace, hope), mind and thinking patterns, and our physical self labeled strength.

For myself, I have three of these areas already identified that I want to improve myself.

Heart - I need to come to grip with fear. I discovered fears and anxieties this year that were nearly crippling. I need to spend some time this year coming to understand those fears. Then finding ways to live into them that I may be able to overcome them. I don't need to conquer them so that I am not afraid anymore. I just need to find a way to live through them when they arise.

(Soul - I guess you could say that peace would come through the previous. But since I just thought of that, I am only noting it here parenthetically.)

Mind - I have regressed in my ability to think. I haven't exercised my thought processes much lately. So I feel the need to work on this, intentionally. I need to do some exercising of the neural pathways to get them to fire a little better. More study and learning. More reading and analyzing. But most importantly more writing. I have set for myself a challenge to write more. It is nothing extreme. I am not writing a novel or guaranteeing that I will finish my project on Disney practices within the church (but here is hoping that the first completed draft will be finished by the end of the year).

I want to just write a little more every day this year. I want to start by shooting for 300 words. I picked that number only because I have  never put a boundary on writing. And 300 words didn't sound like too much to accomplish. And I like the number 3.

Strength - I need to walk more. My hip and back tell my I am sitting too much. I have lost about 25 pounds since November and I would like to lose about 25 more by May. I need to practice more moderation in eating. I have cut down on my servings and eating speed, but I have room for improvement. I can hopefully begin to be a lot healthier. I am 46 years old now. I need to pay attention to things that I have neglected.

I am not saying that I will succeed at everything. I will probably need to forgive myself for a lot of failure. And I know that there will be days when things get pushed to the side for other "more important" agenda items. But this is not a promise or contract. This is a day by day effort to do something to improve my life. It is for me and me alone. My family and churches will hopefully benefit from it along the way.

But I am human and this seems like the necessary thing to do.