Those intentions usually fall by the wayside by the end of January.
Plans to lose those 10 pounds, save more money, watch less television, and guzzle only a small amount of Sprite each week quickly wane, and I settle comfortably into my old habits from the previous year.
But this year has been different. I completed my master’s of arts degree in a writing program in December. I’ve entered a new phase of life — one that requires I live on a different wavelength than I ever have before.
This rings especially true in regard to my spiritual life. I continually seek to know God on a deeper, more intimate level each day, so it only makes sense that this be the overarching mission of the year. To help me streamline my goals and keep me focused, I’ve come up with five spiritual intentions for 2013:
#1 — Retreat
Going on retreat has been a regular part of my life since 2009, when I attended my first retreat at the St. Ignatius Retreat House in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta. The pristine grounds sit on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and reveal the wonder and beauty of the world that God created. Getting away from my everyday routine, which is shrouded with technological distractions, is often what I need to recharge and fine-tune my listening to God’s voice.
#2 — Trust God (more) with my money
Taking control of my money this past year has been somewhat easier due to the fact that I bought a new car. Being responsible for monthly car payments definitely made me more aware of what I was spending and placed a priority on budgeting. I could, however, do better with how much I spend for recreational activities — going out with friends, trying new restaurants, etc. I also would like to get into the habit of regularly tithing to my parish. If I can’t trust God with the money he has given me, what am I really saying about my desire to be financially stable? Perhaps my desire to be financially stable is shrouded by my overwhelming desire to sustain my wants and not my needs. God is the source, and I want to honor Him by thinking carefully before every purchase and sticking to my budget.
#3 — Explore different ways of praying
A few months ago, I joined a group for young professionals interested in pursuing their spiritual lives with authenticity called Collaborative Leaders in Action. The curriculum has its basis in Ignatian spirituality, and I am part of the inaugural class in Atlanta. One of the first things introduced to us was the Examen, a way of praying that focuses on reflection at the end of each day. The Examen may not work for everyone. Personally, I’d like to try writing out my prayers each morning. Finding the best way to pray for you is important because so many of us were conditioned to believe there was only one right way to pray and communicate to God, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Thus far, committing to morning pages has been a challenge. I am not a morning person and unraveling myself from underneath my bed sheets tends to be like moving mountains, let alone thinking about forming coherent sentences. The mornings I have managed to write, which have honestly only been a couple times, the practice has proven to be insightful and helpful once I go back to read them.
#4 — Keep a dedicated log of all my dreams
Since I was a child, I’ve had very vivid dreams. It wasn’t until the past few years that I realized that my dreams were one pivotal way that God speak to me. There were several times where God spoke to me in a dream and due to it being “just a dream,” I chalked it up to mere coincidence, quickly abandoning that it held any significance. I know now that they do, and I want to be more on top of logging those dreams to gain a better understanding of what direction God is leading me. So far this year, no dreams have caught my attention, but I have my journal and pen sitting on my nightstand waiting.
#5 — Commune with the Holy Spirit without ceasing
My spiritual director shared with me the notion of “needless suffering.” Her explanation is that many times a lot of us are willful — stuck on doing what we want to do — instead of yielding to God’s will for us, which in turn can place us in compromising situations. I want to get to the place where by default I always listen to the tug and pull of the Holy Spirit, especially in situations where an immediate action or decision is needed.
2012 was a hard year, ripe with disappointment, heartache, and pain, as well as triumph, success, and fulfillment of long wished upon dreams. I have nothing but the utmost confidence that in 2013 God is leading me into a year filled with lessons, prosperity, and growth beyond what I can see for myself.