Our last weekly meeting of 2020 looked much the same as all our other weekly meetings. Wherever possible, and wise, we had been doing these weekly meetings in person, but this one was over video call. It’s a shame we didn’t have a photo of the three of us from the start of this project to compare with the versions of ourselves that appeared on the screen. If we could do a side-by-side comparison, you would see the change in our faces. Sure, we would look more tired, the last three months of 2020 took the wind right out of us, but we would also look wiser and more resolved. But, the brightness and excitement would still be in our eyes. Erin is still encouraging the group to dream big and reaching out to anyone she can think of to contribute to the project. Indy is still changing these big dreams into achievable goals with her administrative tools. Boriana is still advocating, encouraging, and bringing wisdom and truth. But there is no longer any doubt in our minds that what we are doing is important.
In this last meeting, we discussed New Year's Resolutions. There were mixed opinions, as there usually is. How can we set goals about improving ourselves when it is God who is changing us? How do we set New Year’s goals that are diverse and inclusive (specifically avoiding ableism and fatphobia)? How do we move away from shame and guilt?
We came to imperfect answers to all of these questions. Yes, God is changing us, and there is nothing we can do to make ourselves more or less saved, more or less loved by God. Yet, we are called to become more and more like Jesus, which is an active, not a passive, pursuit. So our goals for this year should revolve around this ultimate goal. Wonderfully, the pressure is off as there is no way that we can achieve the goal of becoming like Jesus in one year (or even in one lifetime), so instead, we can think about small things that will help us towards this goal such as active listening, active empathy, an outpouring of love and ownership of mistakes.
2021 is the year to discard the usual set of resolutions. Sure, losing weight, stopping drinking, and eating healthier are not bad goals, but they aren’t intrinsically good goals either. If they promote fatphobic or elitist ideals and they harm your body rather than heal it, then those are not the goals for you. Our goals should be about loving ourselves and setting our eyes on God, not bringing ourselves down. We need to set goals that make us happy, that encourage creativity and love; think positive goals, not negative ones. If you want to eat healthier, try cooking through a recipe book. If you want to lose weight (for yourself and not because society has pushed one body type on you) try setting up an exercise challenge with friends. Let’s try loving ourselves as Jesus loves us this year.
The shame and guilt often come when we realise we have set unrealistic goals. The idea that we have failed can cause us to give up on a goal entirely. If we let failure cripple us, then we can’t move forwards at all. Spoiler alert, you’re going to fail, and that’s okay. We fail every day, the standard is really high! Instead of letting failure crush us, we need to learn from it and make a change. This is something we’ve definitely learned since we started the website. We have failed to represent people well, we have used language that we later learned is unhelpful and even hurtful, and, frankly, we have pissed off a whole bunch of people. But we didn’t give up, we acknowledged our mistakes, we apologised, and we did better. Now we are in no way saying that we are the standard by which others should conform, no siree. But that decision to acknowledge, apologise, and grow is going to be so important this year as we continue to face the ghosts of our past.
Fast forward to today. 2021 is full steam ahead, and we are setting empathetic, diverse, and love-centered goals left, right, and centre. We also have some practical goals, we are an active group after all! But friends, let us encourage you that if you set one goal this year it is to open your heart to those around you, listen to their stories and be open to growth. It might hurt, you might feel like a failure, or feel shame and guilt from your past, but Jesus has freed us from all those things. Just as we won’t let 2020 ruin 2021, we can’t let our past limit our future.
New Year's Resolutions from the team!
For Our Church Too:
For the team:
Indy and Erin share the Our Church Too Christmas letter from them to you.
Erin reflects through poetry on why she stays with church and her hope for the future of the Church.