Being in my late forties, one thing I’ve come to realise is that New Year’s resolutions just don’t work for me.
I have failed every time that I have tried to put something in place whether it be getting into better shape, quitting sugar, spending less time working and more time savouring life. By January 10th I’ve fallen off of every well-intentioned wagon I’ve set myself on.
A while back, in 2015, something changed. Instead of making up a New Year’s resolution, I paused – and when I paused, I felt like God told me to be quiet.
Have you ever had that feeling? That deep knowing that God was doing something deep within you and to ignore it would be the absolute wrong thing to do? Well, that was it for me. I am generally known as someone who is busy and possibly one who could talk underwater if required. Words and language are never far from me. So, when you understand this prompting telling you to be quiet, it’s a lot to process and accept.
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And, to add to the equation, this notion of being quiet, although it started in 2015, continued through 2016 with a single word: “Solitude”. Then in 2017 it was “Surrender”. And 2018’s word was strangely “Me”, which I struggled with, but I have since come to understand… more on that later.
Here are five things I have learnt from a massive year that’s just gone, but one that has its roots in 2015.
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1. Be Quiet
I have held onto that deep work that began in me three years ago. God took me to a place of quiet, one that allowed me to stop and to listen and to be, rather than what I knew – which was to do, to activate, to involve. It was a meaningful year and although quiet, perhaps one of the loudest years of my life. This year (2018) was no different; I spent most of the year juggling a full work schedule, kids and family and writing my first book. In those moments of quiet, came big, flooding moments of breakthrough – both for the writing process (which is enormous and I’m totally not used to it), and in general.
For you, the reader, I would so encourage you to try this: to look around and to appreciate the moments where no words need to be spoken. The year that is to come will be so radically changed if you just choose your words carefully, and learn how to just be.
2. Be Still
When I pulled myself away, I chose to ‘be still and know that He is God.’ I rested, body, soul, spirit and mind. When you find these moments of peace, however small those moments are, you give yourself permission to ‘let go and let God’, and what an extraordinary decision that can be.
I’ve recently released a book and in it are spaces for you to take time, make space and ‘press pause; in guided meditation practices that have come from a movement my husband Philip and I have developed, called the Gathering Cloud. In the book, I talk about how loneliness is crippling, but being alone is rejuvenating.
Here’s an example:
Retreating to Address Loneliness
- This may seem paradoxical, but find a block of time when you will be totally alone and uninterrupted for one to six hours. I highly recommend that you go outdoors or distinctly change the scenery from your everyday life. Nature is highly preferable, as it’s often somewhere you may not come across any people. Avoid all technology-related distractions.
- During this time, quiet your mind and choose to think on what is true, good, and beautiful.
In this time, in the year that is about to come and the one that has ended, connecting to nature and using your senses may help you “smell the roses.” By doing this, I began to hear in ways that I had missed for decades. The hyper-focus of your life may dissipate, as your attention moves to the experience of being connected to the world around you, and the God who created it. I heard the sound of the trees blowing in the wind and the leaves clapping their hands, I heard the whispers of pain among my friends and family.
“With each new year, I now retreat and listen to the word or words that are being spoken into the core of my being.”
It was almost like I could hear the earth groaning. This year, express your gratitude and sense God’s presence with you. Listening helps you learn to be alone without feeling lonely and is the path to true connectedness.
With each new year, instead of making some grand resolutions, I now retreat and listen to the word or words that are being spoken into the core of my being and I live from that place.
Through being quiet and allowing God to take me on this interesting journey I have learned to be fully engaged and fully myself in and through it all. Living and loving from that place has meant that I have found time and space for all of those ‘resolution’ things that I was trying to achieve. Instead of depriving myself or beating myself up for not going to the gym, working too much, etc., in the quiet, I have found the strength and resolve – and the by-product is that all of those resolutions are now lived experiences.
When you think you have had enough, when you haven’t had a good month, or a good week or a good day: just breathe. Allow God to take away any worries, fears or anxieties that you hold onto. Of course, we think we could always do better, but doing it from this place has created something new in me. Here’s to another year of trusting my God, and knowing that it is from that deep sense that I live and breathe and have my being.
My book, True You would not have happened if I hadn’t stopped putting pressure on myself to make resolutions and to live this way or that; instead I retreated and found the presence of God in the waiting, and God knew all along the path for me to travel to find and explore my True You.
Article supplied with thanks to ACCTV. About the Author: Susan is the author of the 2018 release ‘True You: Finding Beauty in Authenticity.’