January 11, 2019

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Make the time to work on relationships with God, others in 2019

Patti LambI have a clever girlfriend who introduced me to a “New Year’s Resolution” alternative, and I’m giving it a try this year. Admittedly, I’m usually failing with my New Year’s resolution by week two. This friend of mine dedicates each New Year to a word, or a phrase. She explained that this helps her focus her energy where it’s most needed throughout the year.

Last year, her word was “courage.” She had unexpectedly, but delightfully, learned that she would be a mother again. Her two children were starting middle school, and she’d given away her baby items long ago. She was also in the higher risk category for pregnancy since she was older than traditional mothers.

On top of that, she was only about a year into a new full-time job, and so she decided on the word “courage” as her mantra for the coming year.

During bouts with morning sickness or total exhaustion from long work days that sometimes required travel, she would inhale deep breaths and breathe out the word “courage.”

I liked this idea of giving a year purpose by naming it. I decided to give it a try myself in 2019. But I struggled with which word or phrase to use. There are so many worthy areas of my life that need attention and improvement.

My mind kept circling back to the word “relationship,” so that’s my pick for this year. I’m only a few days in, but now when I snap at my son or make a snarky comment to my husband, I think back to my word and hold onto it like a handle. I reflect on whether I’m nurturing a relationship or strengthening it with my words and actions. When I fail to give relationships their proper importance, I ask for grace, push “reset” on my brain and try again, with more effort and patience the next time.

This brings me to the key reason I picked the word “relationship.” The most important relationship that any one of us will ever have is with God, our creator. I attend Mass and I say my prayers, but I don’t often take the time to shut the door in a quiet room and just talk to God. I need to stop viewing him as this remote being.

The concept I fail to wrap my tiny human brain around is that, even though God made every type of creature and flower and planet throughout all of time, he is divine and he can and wants to have an intimate, unique relationship with each and every one of us.

In a lesson to our fifth-grade religious education students, we read the following passage which illustrated this point:

“We are persons of great dignity. God loves each of us as his children. Because of this, each of us has great worth and value. It makes no difference if someone is disabled or unloved by other people. Even a tiny unborn baby growing within its mother’s womb is more important than all the stars in the sky, all the inventions of science, and all the works of art. Each of us is known and loved by God. That matters more than anything else.”

God loves us more than the sun or the moon! (And those are pretty important in the universe.)

I invite you to join me and say “Cheers” to 2019: The year of working on relationships, with God and those around us. Here’s to deepening our ties—to repairing them, and renewing them.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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