They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and only 1 day to lose it. These are bleak statistics for New Years resolution season. I love driving past crowded gym parking lots on January 2nd to watch the throngs of people rushing the doors, sweating off the Christmas fudge on the elliptical machine. Whether it is losing the holiday 10 or getting in shape for a marathon – we are culturally ingrained to let the New Year signal a large life change for us. Language of new beginnings and fresh starts are as sweet as the peppermint cookies we just inhaled for a month. The problem with that motivation though is that once the reality of February sets in those gym parking lots gets progressively less crowded. The glory of a ripped stomach for summer that once seemed so attainable is now buried underneath the fudge and cookies I ate this year. The problem with resolutions is that too often they are for things that are new and foreign to us. I don’t currently run 10 miles a day, so why would I plop down $100 on new running shoes that will sit in my closet come March?
So what if we don’t resolve to do new things this New Years? I want to try and resolve to do more of a few things that I already do. These are daily practices, things I already do as I try to intentionally live my life as worship. Want to try some of them? Steal a few and make your own list! Let’s live intentionally as worship this year together.
Saying thank you – I realized as I was making this list that there are a lot of habits that relate to how we treat people in service industries. Often these people are treated so marginally. We view them with an entitlement that says we can consume the good or service they are serving. In reality these people are souls. Thank the person that serves your coffee. When someone opens a door for you smile and say thank you. Write a “thank you” card to express your gratefulness for someone letting you stay in their home. Saying thank you leads to and stems from a heart of gratitude.
Using people’s names – nothing is easier or gives more shared humanity to strangers than using their first name. Be the kind of person that looks for a nametag on your waiter in a restaurant. Thank them and use their name. If they don’t have a tag then ask them as soon as you’ve ordered your appetizers.
Spontaneously giving gifts – I love surprising people with a small act of love. It could be as small as leaving a chocolate bar on your receptionist’s desk or as big as having flowers delivered to your co-workers to thank them for the influence they have on your life. Even better, do this stuff anonymously – the point of the gift is to bless that person, not to glorify the way they view you.
Tipping well – It might only be a matter of an extra dollar or two but be the kind of person that leaves a 20 or 25% tip for your waiter. Even if the service isn’t mind-blowing I still love to give the benefit of the doubt, maybe that person is having the worst day ever. Maybe it is my time to serve them. It isn’t always the waiter’s job to serve us. When we start to let Christ’s love flip our paradigms of what it means to be members of society then it starts to change the way we view those around us.
Praying as I drive – I wish Harry Potter and apparation were real. I hate driving because it takes time and there’s little else I can do that feels “productive.” This year I started praying for people I know as I pass their houses every day. The most remarkable thing is to see how some of those prayers have started to become true in their lives. The cool thing about anonymous prayer is that it takes away the opportunity to succumb to the human urge for recognition. If we pray for people anonymously then God gets 100% of the honor when those prayers start to become true.
Flossing my teeth – At best I floss three times a week. I’m going to take some inspiration from my friend Jared on this one and strive to become a twice-a-day flosser. This is the most “resolution” of all the things on this list because it is the one I currently do the worst.
Tithing – Jesus talked about money more than any topic except the Kingdom of God. Then why are we so bad at talking about money in church? People like Rick Warren who gives 90% and keeps 10% to live off of inspire me. My hope is to get a little more above 10% tithing every year.
Writing – I love to write. The second half of 2014 has taken me through a fun journey towards refining my voice in writing and owning the fact that I have things to say. We all have important things to say. 2015 begins the fear-inducing process of submitting writing samples to anyone that will listen in the hopes that I can establish myself as a “writer.”
Engage the stranger – Say hi to the person you’re sitting next to while waiting for the bus, on the subway, passing you in the grocery store. You don’t need to find out their life story but acknowledging them means you are sharing in humanity together. Greet homeless people. Take it a step further and buy them a meal.
Cook meals for people – A lot has been written about the power of breaking bread together. For one, its biblical – Jesus did it all the time. My friend and great influencer on my life, Wendy Kessler, has taught me that the kitchen is sacred space. The conversations that happen while preparing meals and while sharing food can be some of the most restorative, formative, and life-giving times. I want to be the kind of person that knows how to cook a mean meal from scratch and that invites other people into sharing it as frequently as possible. Come over for dinner sometime!