Last year I wrote up a post of New Year’s Resolutions. It went something like this:
- Go To the Outer Banks
- Write a Book
- Exercise as a family.
- Maybe this, maybe that
- Triple Headed Monster Lady
It quickly became apparent that many of my goals were too non-specific and thus, worthless. Those that were more concrete, actually happened where as the vague resolutions were too hard to incorporate. Less Facebook? Like, not in the bathroom? Or not during the morning school hours? What is less? And since I didn’t hash out those specifics when I wrote the resolutions, I didn’t take the time later and usually decided, eh, things are fine how they are.
This year, I knew I wanted very specific resolutions. Even if I fall short, I know what the ideal is. But then the task of choosing my resolutions began, and in trying to figure them out, the idea of an examination of conscience popped up. Just as all Catholics review their sins before confession, I sat down to review my habits, and regular sins, of the past year. As I thought of things I wanted to change, I realized I was looking at a classic case of envy with one problem, and sloth or greed with another. Soon I had a list of the seven deadly sins written down, and the contrary virtues. My goal for 2014 has become not only to root out bad habits rooted in the seven deadly sins, but to grow in virtue. Seven deadly sins? Seven contrary virtues? Sounds like Quick Takes material!
1. The sin of anger. Contrary virtue, meekness.
Here’s a big one for me. I want to stop answering the kids in anger, annoyance or with sarcasm. Although I don’t want to be the kid’s doormat, I’m praying for meekness. When tempted to respond to a smart remark, complaint or question I’ve answered 50 times with sailor talk, I’m praying for the ability to take a deep breath, and not snap back. I’m going to tell the kids they can remind to be meek and I’m pretty sure that will keep me from forgetting my resolution…EVER, like, until I die.
2. The sin of greed. Contrary virtue, generosity.
I am greedy with my time. I hoard it. I want to write, read, shower and go to the bathroom with the door shut. Often, I dismiss the children’s requests to play so I can do something on the computer. While I deserve some “me time”, too often every minute I’m not schooling, cooking or running a household I want for me. This year, I want to be generous in my time to my children, and husband. I’m praying I can put off what I want to do and give that time to my family joyfully.
3. The sin of envy. Contrary virtue, brotherly love.
I don’t feel the need to reveal to publicly all the ways I suffer from envy, but suffice it to say my husband has been heard to utter “I don’t remember you suffering from envy before you had a blog.” Hmmpf. Now, rather than vent to my hubby, when I start to detect a hint of envy, I’m going to pray for the person it’s directed at. I’m going to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for their successes. I’m going to pray that I can be happy when someone I know receives something nice, or gets to travel, rather than sulk and allow myself to get caught up in ‘what ifs’.
In the end, many of my complaints about school, our house, etc. can be tied to wishing for something better rather than being content with what we have. I’m focusing on being thankful, specifically in helping me overcome the frustration of living in a less than ideal house.
4. The sin of sloth. Contrary virtue, diligence.
I’m so, so very bad at maintaining a regular prayer life. I’ve actually set reminders on my iPod to help me remember to start and end each day with prayer. I know after a few weeks, it will hopefully become a habit, but just getting to the point where I won’t need an ap to alert me will be the trick.
So these are virtues I’m specifically focusing on: meekness, generosity, brotherly love and diligence, plus trying to be thankful in all things. Here are the remaining vices and virtues. Where do your resolutions lie?
5. The sin of gluttony. Contrary virtue, temperance.
6. The sin of pride. Contrary virtue, humility.
7. The sin of lust. Contrary virtue, chastity.
My remaining resolutions include finishing my book and submitting it to a publisher or literary agent by July 1, ( Certainly a practice of diligence, but hopefully not at the cost of being generous with my time.) and several small specific goals for my blog and my 35K For SMA campaign.
I still feel like maybe some of my resolutions aren’t specific enough, but I’m hoping that when faced with a situation to answer sharply, or skip prayers, I’ll be able to choose the more virtuous path, with or without a nudge from a family member or an electronic alarm.
Guess this means I’d better get my butt off the computer and back to the kids. While I’m off setting three more alerts on my iPod, swing back to Jen’s for Takes that will get 2014 off to a stupendous start.
PS. I’m dubbing 2014 the year of the Manticore, just because. My beast of the year laughs at your word of the year. Keep smiling, and stay virtuous people!
I love this. I, too, hoard my time and snap at my kids too often, forget to pray and be content. I might just borrow this for my year also.
I think the plan to be specific in your resolutions is VERY helpful. And to pray for people who provoke envy is a particularly good specific plan.
OKay, so I have a tendency to say things I regret, and an awesome priest told me in Confession that I should bless my mouth with the sign of the cross (you know like what you do before the Gospel is read?) whenever I’m tempted to be rude, mean, snarky, etc. It’s an awesome reminder!
That is SUCH a good tip! I will remember that one. I should also bless my hands every time I sit down to a keyboard.
This is good! Thanks for the tip!
I’ve never been terribly good at writing down resolutions, let alone keeping them. But this year I’m off to a different start. I actually took pen to paper (go me!). Your resolutions and my resolutions are remarkably similar (yet I didn’t have the elegance to name them as virtues, excellent on your part), but I did (however), put bullet points under each resolution, naming specific circumstances in which I see myself needing the extra help or guidance, or having failed miserably in the past, as in, what I screwed up on yesterday. This, I hope, will keep me resolute in keeping my resolutions. 😉
Um, I’m pretty sure this is ME you’re talking about here. And I just have to say that I find it wildly inappropriate that you climbed inside my head, wrote resolutions for me, and then posted them on your blog. Wildly. Inappropriate.
I like the manticore though.
I just basically said the same thing. This Kelly lady *SAYS* she lives in New Jersey, but how do we really know that? Maybe she’s one of the moms at our park day, secretly taking notes about us! 😉
Muwah, Kelly. Could not love you more,
I am not prone to envy, but when I find I’m guilty of it , it is always of people like you who seem to be so brilliant and have your brain and words all in such great order. Just getting to know your blog and I love it!
Are you me? That is a serious question. If I had an ounce of creativity this month I could have written this exact post, except for the wit and the Manticore.
Wow, what a great post. Thanks for including the contrary virtues, because it reminds me that what we are called to is larger than what we must leave behind for the sake of holiness. In other words, loving Jesus means not only putting down what’s bad for me, but then picking up what’s good for me (and the kingdom.)
Thank you for sharing your resolutions. I would not have thought of listing contrary virtues like that. Great post!
Kudos to you!! The idea of framing your goals in terms of pursuing the virtues is (in my opinion) much more practical than all the more specific things that get put on lists of resolutions. Bringing the virtues you want into your conscious awareness is the critical first step to seeing the changes which are actually much more important than (say) losing weight or trying to make yourself spend less time on Facebook. Those things come more naturally as the underlying virtues are embraced, and they aren’t permanently attainable except through developing the related virtues. And – big bonus – God LOVES to answer our cries for help to increase in virtue (as does our Mother Mary). This is one kind of resolution that is guaranteed to succeed!
Kelly, I cannot tell you how this list has wrung in my ears the past few days. Leave me alone!! Kidding. This post was wonderful and clearly was about me (have we met??) – especially 1, 2, 4, and coming up with my own beast for the year. If I had a word for the new year it would probably be, “make Kelly’s resolution your resolution” – and that’s four words too many, so I’m stuck with the beast. Thanks for writing this. I really needed it!
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