Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Three weeks into January, how are you doing?
While I don’t make resolutions, I enjoy setting goals and making plans.
When it comes to developing good habits, I would rather make simple changes that add up over time. I like to see progress and like the flexibility to alter goals as needed.
There is no problem with setting goals and making plans in general. Yet, I’ve realized that I can attempt to control too many outcomes, including others’ reactions. Have you been there too? Ultimately, this causes a lot of stress and can actually hinder progress.
For example, this winter I signed Lydia up for ice skating lessons. I thought it was a great idea and would teach her valuable skills. Lydia never requested the lessons (ahem), but I wanted her to try it out and learn. We do live on the Minnesota border after all!
I hoped Lydia would learn to enjoy ice skating as much as I do. We signed up for a six week parent-tot class, where I go out on the ice with Lydia. My main goal was that she would try her best. If she had fun or was good at it, that would be a bonus.
Well, we’re a few weeks into it and things have not gone according to my plan. A few days ago, Lydia flat-out refused to get on the ice. In fact, she stubbornly sat in the bleachers and wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t move her without causing a scene, though she is typically more compliant.
I’d say that Lydia takes after Dave, but nobody would ever believe me! 😉
I didn’t expect perfection, I just wanted her to try!
I finally convinced Lydia to try again after sitting through the entire class. I might’ve threatened to eat her leftover pizza if she didn’t get on the ice. At any rate, she was motivated for the last thirty seconds of class. She skated out as the other kids came in.
Trust me, I did not earn any parenting awards that day!
Then last night, we went to the class again. This time I left all expectations at the door. I was prepared to sit and watch, if needed. I resolved to coach instead of coax. I remained positive and encouraged Lydia at her own pace. She fell several times, yet by God’s grace, she tried her best and did great. We had fun and each learned a few new skills.
I was so proud of Lydia! I realized if I push my plan (aka “You will do this and enjoy it!”), she could grow to hate ice skating. When I backed off and relaxed, we made much more progress. Lydia was able to relax and was proud of herself, too.
You know, in my own stubbornness, sometimes I try to do the same thing with God. In my impatience, I can get ahead of God and try to do His part. Or, I prefer my goals and plan to His. I get caught up in my own expectations, and leave no wiggle room for what God wants to do on my behalf.
Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t just let me skate by! Sometimes, I need to sit and watch what He is doing. Sometimes, I have an active role. Many times, I’m the one needing the lesson!
When Life doesn’t go as planned, we can change goals and alter our expectations. When we persevere and don’t give up, God is faithful to direct us where we need to go.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Father God, thank You for being patient with me when I am stubborn. I am a slow learner at times. Thank You for grace and do-overs. Your plan is far better than mine! Help me do my best. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Questions: Are you stubborn too? 🙂 What is something you are learning lately?