So here we go. 2015. A new year, day two, and the hope of endless possibilities that open up to us when the month of January rolls around. With that, the past week found my inbox and Facebook page filled with new years projects, programs, jump starts, and resolutions that I could choose from to get my year off to an amazing start. I had offers to jump start my career, my diet, my fitness, my spirit, my abundance, my love life, my parenting skills, and the list goes on and on. Yes 2015 wanted to remind me early and often that it’s all about me! 2015 is going to be my year! It IS all about ME right?
At least it was all about me back in my comfortable 2014. Back in the good ol’ days of December when I stood shopping for Christmas gifts at my local Barnes and Nobel using the “one for you, two for me” system of gift buying. I had gone to the bookstore to pick up a copy NY Times Bestseller Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Father James Martin for my husband Brad. We are both big fans of Fr. Martin’s writing (my favorite is My Life With the Saints and Brad’s favorite is This is Our Exile) so you could say my motives in buying this book were mixed to begin with. A book for Brad would quickly become a book for me, I’d just let him read it first.
Scanning the shelves of the Christian section I found Fr. Martin’s book, but not before a substantial stack of Jen Hatmaker’s paperback 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess caught my wandering eye. If you haven’t met Jen Hatmaker, she’s the darling mom and pastor’s wife with Texas size wit and wisdom reality star of HGTV’s “My Big Family Renovation.” Was I there shopping for me? No, but this was the “good books” section so it was fine to grab myself a copy. My Catholic friends you might even call it “right and just”. And if it’s truly right and just, then getting the only copy of her other book Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity was doubly good. One for Brad, two (plus his) for me.
My dear readers (all 25 of you at this early point in my blogging career – post 2 to be exact), I’d like to tell you this was the only time I used this method of shopping for myself during the season of giving, but I don’t want to start our relationship off on the wrong foot by outright lying. No, when I bought my 16 year old Cali that red Roxy beach sweater, I bought my own in black. And when my “oh-so-frat” 19 year old Dakota asked for all things Patagonia this year (or as my wise, mountain town dwelling sister-in-law Elizabeth calls it “Pata-gucci”), I bought three for him and one for me, easily rationalizing that my skirt was from the sale section. And yet, picking up Hatmaker’s book subtitled “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,” my own excess didn’t even cross my mind.
Then I read it. No I didn’t wrap it, I just read it. And it wrecked me. Why? Because I’m pretty good, or I thought I was (note to self 2015 – check that big ego at the door). My work is in fair trade, helping bring the work of poor women in developing countries to market in the US to provide them with a sustainable living and a way to feed their families. Good job, √. My kids are pretty decent human beings, who like me and talk to me, are generally good citizens of their schools and communities, and I provide them with a roof, food (though I’m not a stellar cook), medical care, American creature comforts, and a great education. Good mom, √. I love my husband. Good wife √. I would do anything to help my friends when in need. Good friend, √. I go to church (almost) every Sunday plus Holy days of obligation and I’m in bible study. Good Catholic, √. But after reading 7, good grief, have I missed the whole point? Am I digging deep for others and is it a daily practice, or am I only shiny on the surface? I need to know.
Ironically, considering I bought myself enough gifts to be fully overindulged on Christmas morning, my mom gave me an atypical gift this Christmas. My parents are notoriously generous at Christmas. While they were conservative and of modest means when I was growing up, at Christmas time gifts for the kids was what they were all about. Their Santa spirit was, and still is, enormous. So what did I get this year? Let’s start with the fact that I did get a generous check, but that was unlike my mom. She is more of a gift giver than a money giver, especially if the gift is a gadget or technology or golf supplies or something with sparkle (her loves). I’d say “give ‘em something fun” is her motto. But this year I got a hammer. A hammer. It took me a while, but I remembered that when she was here for Thanksgiving I was hanging a Christmas decoration on my porch and couldn’t find a hammer anywhere and had to borrow one from my neighbor Jill. I’m sure that’s why she bought me this thoughtful, practical, unexpected gift. But, as he does so brilliantly, God used my mom + my excess + the book 7 + a hammer = changed heart. Tools. Amazing, practical, perfect tools. It’s time to get to work. Thanks mom (and Jen and Jesus)!
So my New Years project this year is my own version of 7. I’m calling it Project 7: Version P. Unlike Jen Hatmaker, I’ll be spending 7 weeks not 7 months on the project, still I’m working for long lasting personal change. Jen chose to focus a month each on clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress (if I forgot to mention it READ THIS BOOK!). I’ve decided to play off all these themes with my own project spending a week deeply focused on 7 P’s: Purging (plus repurposing & reappropriating), Porridge (food of the refugee), Poverty, People, Prayer, Practice, and Possibility. I started yesterday and oh my, the lessons (did you know I was a vinegar hoarder? I didn’t until yesterday). I promise not to give you the daily details (if cleaning my kitchen is any indication this would be way too much information), but to bring you the big points. Here’s hoping 2015 is not all about me. Let’s hope this year has much bigger aspirations. Check back. Wish us both luck.
dc:title=”2015: It’s all about me right?”