Last year, for the first time in a long time, I made New Year’s Resolutions. They provided our family with a destination, so they were definitely worthwhile. And we had a great journey, as we worked toward meeting all of them.
Eating healthy, reducing our energy usage and waste, being intentional with our possessions, and even keeping Christmas simpler will continue to be areas of focus in our lives. But, for 2103, I wanted to try something different, and do a one-word theme. This will provide a broader focus, kind of an umbrella under which all we do will fall.
Many times, when considering my theme, I wondered if the word “Love” would be appropriate. It’s such a cheesy, all-encompassing word, that seems to carry little actual meaning in this day and age. I considered other words, such as friendship, compassion, and kindness. But none of them seemed adequate for what I wanted to express. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines love as “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” That’s the love that I am talking about here.
Because this kind of love is what we need.
All around us, we see a lack of community. Possessions and “entertainment” are replacing our connections to others. We have the ability to “connect,” online, but we turn to shallow, fast-food style “communities” such as Facebook, where interact on such a shallow, surface level. And we all know the interaction is not always positive.
But wait, you might say, we have love, in our families! And most people do. We love our children, but can we really do our best raising them in a vacuum? Who can we ask for advice and support, when they’re misbehaving, struggling with their friends, or having trouble in school? We love our spouses, but is it really fair to expect one person to be our entire support network? Is it even possible for one person to be that (and for us to be that, for one person)? And who will we turn to when things are difficult (and at one point or another they will be)?
Our families will thrive only with love from the outside.
We will accomplish nothing by sitting around, complaining (or posting on Facebook!) about the lack of community in modern society. What we need to do–for the sake of our children, our marriages and relationships, our selves, and our dreams–is build our own.
You can keep your Facebook account, if you must. But stay in touch in a more personal way with those you truly care about. Don’t be “too busy.” It’s not a matter of writing everyday; it’s a matter of keeping that connection. And have interactions in real life. Invite people over–who cares if your house isn’t clean enough! Rather than reading pointless status updates, spend your time cultivating relationships, giving love.
As we strive to build community, and to share love with others, we will inevitably be given love as well. This can be extremely difficult, for those of us who have been hurt, who are convinced that we are not deserving. (Read this poem, as well as this blog post, from Be More With Less). We’ve all been hurt. It’s easy to run away, to stay isolated, but we need to learn to trust. We need to learn to receive love, to accept it and not immediately explain–under the guise of modesty–why we are not deserving.
We can love others, before we love ourselves. But when we can receive love, when we truly believe that we deserve it, our ability to give it expands far beyond what we can imagine.
So, my theme for 2013 is love. During this new year, I will give it, every chance I have. I will give other people the benefit of the doubt, and work toward having empathy toward their situation. I will stop complaining about the lack of community, and continue to work toward developing it. And I will work toward accepting love–without giving an explanation as to why I’m not good enough or why I don’t deserve it. Because we’re all good enough, and we all deserve it.
I love you.
I will not be writing any posts for the next three days, as I will be celebrating the holiday with my family. Have a wonderful Christmas, and I will be back on the 28th!