Which of the R words will you embrace in 2022?
Maybe you kicked it off with a New Year’s Resolution? Perhaps you are thinking more of a personal reformation? Others of you might feel ready for a revolution. But if you are a spiritual misfit who wants to find a healthy abundance, I suggest you consider the possibility of reconstruction. Otherwise, 2022 will just be 2020, too.
Here is why.
We all know how the resolution game works. You pick something about yourself that you want to change. Maybe it is what you eat, how often you work out, or how much time you spend with family. They are all noble goals. Then you convince yourself that the new year will be not just new but different.
As a kid, I thought this way about learning to ride a bike. I was seven and whole-heartedly believed that the day I turned eight, somehow I would be able to ride. Imagine my disappointment when my birthday came and, for the first time in months I attempted to ride, only to have the same balance issues I did when I was seven.
So often our resolution-making ignores that all of the habits and routines we formed over a lifetime will no longer influence us moving forward. So when the clock changes and the calendar turns, that is what will make a difference.
Yet no matter how many articles and videos offer guidance on how to keep those resolutions, for the vast majority of people the optimism of December 31, 2021, with never make it out of January 2022 (or even through the first week), because who we are will never change overnight.
Aspiration and willpower will not get the job done. We need to try something else or 2022 will just be 2020, too.
The realization that more must be done might suggest that the key to 2022 is a personal reformation. Here we focus more on the bigger picture and key systemic changes. We realize if we change something more structural in our life there will be other changes downstream.
Perhaps that means the establishment of new habits and routines that set the stage for success at the gym or with a new diet. We might write out a grocery list based on a specific menu and then map out a weekly calendar to increase the odds we will not go to the store hungry and buy on impulse. Then again we might set an alarm to remind us to go to set out our gym clothes right before we go to bed so they’re the first thing we see in the morning.
Granted, this is all far more effective than a simple resolution and it might work, but it brings a new problem to the surface. Reformation strategies are about asserting power over ourselves. It is about manipulation and control of our psyches to create a preferable external result.
Do we want 2022 to be another year of living by power? Or perhaps it is time to do something truly radical and learn to live from love.
Once we recognize that neither resolution nor reformation will make 2022 anything more than 2020, too, we could feel the impulse to just burn it all down and start over. After all, everything we have done to date is based on power so why not just reset the system?
I know some people who attempted a personalized version of Noah’s Ark. They changed their phone number, deleted social media, moved across the country, and started a whole new life only to find themselves living out the same patterns in new places.
I did my version of this after my first marriage, getting married to the exact opposite woman twenty months later. But while the externals changed, as much as I aspired to be someone new, I did not.
In other words, even if we wanted to, there is no way to truly tear it all down. And truth be told, if we could, this would be just another power move that rejects our history. Revolution is not that path to the honesty and vulnerability that make up the way of love.
So how should we approach 2022?
For most of the past decade, I worked at the REI Denver Flagship. The building itself is more than 100 years old and used to be the power station for the Denver Tramway. Needless to say, it is a landmark building in Denver. But when REI purchased the property in the late ’90s, the building was in disrepair. So REI set out on a multi-year reconstruction project to not only preserve the building but also repurpose many of the original materials.
Today, the more than 90,000 feet of retail space is nothing like the original power station, yet everywhere you go in the store that story of the building and surrounding region’s past is evident. That is reconstruction.
This is also what God does in the first cosmological myth in Genesis. God takes what is and invites it to be something more. It is about the bestowal of meaning and purpose, not in a way that rejects what is, but loves it, honors it, and grants it significance.
How do you make 2022 something more than 2020, too? You step into reconstruction.
These two posts need to be read together. The first outlines what it means to live by spirit and introduces a spirit of power. The second explores a spirit of love. Lived out it reveals the distinction between the Son of God named Caesar and the Son of God named Jesus. Without understanding both, I don’t believe it is possible to embrace the spirituality of Jesus.
Essay: “The Challenge to Love” in Intimacy by Henri Nouwen
For more than a year and a half now this essay has worked on me. Shaping the way I think and interpret the world around me. If you want more on power and love, this is where to start.
How are we supposed to read Genesis 1? In this post I delve into the first cosmological myth of Genesis and interpret it through the lenses of power and love.
What are some of the patterns and habits you hold that most frustrate you? Write them down. This week, practice reading them without judging them. Try to embrace the idea that they have a place in your reconstructed abundance.
Over the next number of weeks I will explore some of the keys to my own reconstruction. Here’s to them inspiring yours!