Welcome to 2019! There’s something about a new year that feels like a clean slate. As a new year begins, we make our plans.

Sometimes, those plans change our behavior for the coming year. And sometimes, those plans are only a reminder of another thing gone wrong — one more little failure in a long list, replayed as January turns to February, or as February turns to March.
So, this year, let’s be kind to ourselves and make wise choices about what we resolve. To make a plan for 2019 that will be both life-changing and worth keeping, here are a few steps that will get us on the best track…

Start here: God loves you. God loves the best things about you. God even loves the messed-up things about you. God loves your quirks and your idiosyncrasies. God “gets” you better than you have ever understood yourself. So whatever it is you resolve this year, make sure it honors the good in you that God so deeply loves.

And now consider: You are not here by accident. There is a purpose for your life that is beyond you. Our lives are a process of figuring out what that purpose is. Our highest calling almost always has to do with how our lives bless other people. Maybe it is living your truth out loud. Maybe it is being that adult you wish you’d had in your life as a teenager. Maybe it is teaching empathy to someone. Maybe it is in learning how to forgive. Once you start considering your purpose, you can better connect to resolutions worth making.

And, of course: There is something about you that is unique in all the world. Some people have great artistic gifts. Others can problem solve better than most. Still others are great as a silent presence for friends in need. And some people are great at making others laugh. Over time our skill-set changes with the experiences of life. You probably already know what it is you do well. Is it singing? Then make sure you keep on singing — and maybe branch out and sing with a group or chorus or church choir!

Is it methodical problem solving? Why not volunteer for a group that needs some organizational help? Do you carry some special knowledge about how to get through something rough? A support group member or a voice of support on a help line might be your highest use in this world. Or do you have a latent ability that needs to be developed? There are always classes and seminars on writing, or pottery, or cooking, or gardening (there are also millions of YouTube videos, if you’re short on cash for classes) that can help you develop a talent or skill that you’ve allowed to languish for far too long.

One more thing: What do you need? Do you need time to heal from something difficult? Do you need some exercise? Do you need to focus on your health or on the health of a loved one? Do you need to experience some quiet or some community? Find a way to make a priority of giving you what you need as you ponder 2019.

You are beloved. Your life is a gift. May you, in 2019, figure out the best way to nurture the good you’ve been given and make way for God’s great love for you and for the people around you in your life.

Jolin Wilks McElroy is pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at 1200 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203. She is also a co-founder of the Dilworth Soup Kitchen, serving a delicious, quality lunch every Monday, free of charge, at First Christian Church’s Fellowship Hall. First Christian Church is a small congregation that makes a big difference. Rev. McElroy will be doing a sermon series Jan. 13-Feb. 17 called “When God Gives a Gift…” about faithful living in the new year. For more information, the church website is: fcc-charlotte.org.