Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Starting something new

Starting something new can be so difficult, even when you know it is so good for you. I remember the first time I took an intensive English class. My parents sacrificed a lot to enroll me in those classes. I spoke Brazilian Portuguese so if I was to have a chance to attend college in the U.S., I had to learn the language of the land. 

I took the bus, the subway then another bus to get there. I knew a little English but not fluently. I learned about grammar, writing, and pronunciation.

"Cintia, don't speak Portu-glish, speak English!" my teacher would tell me. I intentionally started pronouncing my words so English speakers could understand them.

Once I left the class, I would get back on the bus and admire the architecture of the downtown scenery of my beloved Rio de Janeiro. When I arrived home, I'd do my homework at the kitchen table. Even my leisure time was work time. I watched movies in English without looking at the subtitles. I was determined to learn English.

My entire teenage life adapted to those changes so I could live the life I now have.


2021 feels like starting something new. It feels difficult. My temptation is to live the exact life I lived in 2020. 

I was too busy for my own good. I was too angry and frustrated by life's circumstances. I didn't love as intentionally as I should have. I thought I was okay.

Each new year offers the possibility to start again, to try again, and to become the person God called us to be. It is just difficult at first. 

What to do?

1. Reflect. I am tempted to repeat the previous year without practicing reflection. When you think of your previous year, you have a clear picture of a closed chapter. You can also vote on what needs to stop and what needs to start.

2. Recognize. I need to know that God wants me to grow. Recognizing God's best plan for you will help you see that you have room to grow. You will realize that things can be better. We know this because God wants the best for us, always. He specializes in leading and guiding us the way we should go. We just to recognize we need to make a move.

3. Resolve. I need to be determined to follow an action plan. It can be as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep each night. It can be as complex as applying for a Ph.D. program. The goal is to make peace with having resolve. When you do, you will go far. Even if you look back, you will be so far away from where you started that you will have to keep going towards your goal.

When I think of those months going to English class, I realize that starting can be difficult yet empowering. There is power in starting. Don't despise small beginnings. They lead you to where God wants you to be.

Reflection: 

Take the time to think about 2020. It is now a closed chapter. What do you need to stop doing? What are some habits you need to stop? Start? What are some friendships that need to stop? What are some friendships you need to invest on? What did you do well in 2020? Take the time to celebrate those victories. I challenge you to find something good, even if all you need to account for is the fact that you are still here on earth. 

God wants you to grow. How do you feel God calling to grow in your spiritual, emotional, physical life? Sometimes, growth comes from welcoming forgiveness and letting go of grudges. Take some time to think about how you can benefit from living a life of forgiveness. Grow also comes from recognizing our flaws. What are some character flaws God is calling you to let go of? List each one. Next to those, write down a list of qualities that will replace such flaws. 

Write down your action plan for 2021. It doesn't need to be complex. It can be as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep each night. It can be as complex as applying for a Ph.D. program. Once you write it down, keep it somewhere you can see often. It may be the screen saver of your cell phone. Take time to write down small action steps that will help you reach your goal. With each word you write, remember, you have what it takes to reach each dream, each goal.

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