Oh, January. The air is full of resolutions, good wishes and the opportunity to start anew. What if your resolution this year changed your trajectory forever? What if rather than the loss of a few pounds, or a greater amount of vegetables, what if this year you started “choosing”? In our cluttered, busy days, the world can demand a lot of us, leaving us to feel that we have little time and few options. Yet in each moment we choose how we are going to conduct ourselves moment-by-moment, and this “choosing” bleeds into every other aspect of our lives. Now I am not talking about a list of rules, but rather principles to guide your heart, so you can consciously choose who you will be in the circumstances of your day. Your circumstances can change any moment, but the one constant in each of them is who you will be when you walk into the next one. We are much less defined by our circumstances and much more defined by what flows from our hearts, and that, my friends is a choice. Choosing to let your heart flow from principles that you have predetermined, will change everything. It affects the air when we walk into a room, who we are while we are there, it will impact our children, husbands, and friends and how we bounce back when we fall. While life may sometimes seem to give us seemingly few options each day, in each moment you do get to choose what flows from your heart directing who you are as you walk into it. Your principles will set your gaze, impact how you react to what comes your way, and splash on the people you love. I kept a mental list of guiding principles and noticed that I made the same choices over and over, my pattern changed. As it did, I became more of the person I wanted to be, rather than the person that was washed up on the beach after she was hit by the waves of the day. So this year, how might everything change if your heart patterns were guided by predetermined principles? My list isn’t long, but it has developed into a pattern that has freed my heart to more fully love and live. I will make generous assumptions of others. I will not do petty. I will not get offended. I will not be controlled by my circumstances. I will fight for the big rocks. I will trust that God knows better than I do. You can make your own list or borrow from mine. I explained mine in greater detail below to give your examples. Read them if you think it might be helpful, but feel the freedom to stop here. I found the change to be clumsy at first. I found it surprising that I was tripping over principles I had chosen for myself, yet over time they became instinctively what flows from my heart. Isn’t that what resolutions are all about? Choosing who you want to be for yourself, for your husband, for your kids, for your friends and your God. These years are precious; decide how you are going to live them. Choose to live free from who you morph into being over time, and start being who you were created to be. 1) I will make generous assumptions of others. Generous assumptions loosen the noose we subconsciously put around the necks of the people that around us. When we give them more grace, it is not only nice for them, but it lightens the load we carry as well. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t ask our husbands to shoot us a text if they are going to be late or hand them a pen and a piece of paper on our birthday and ask them to write a list of the things they love about us. Generous assumptions give us the margin to act in a way that is not reactive so that we don’t write a nasty note and leave it in the work fridge or burn the person we love most as they walk in the door tired from a full day. 2) I will not do petty. I will not take the bait. Even out loud, pushing it away, saying “I don’t do petty.” This one has saved me a lot of wasted emotion and attention that can be placed back on the things that are important to me. So when a petty thought crosses my path, I refuse to give it the attention it does not deserve. I name it petty and walk away free. 3) I will not get offended. Choosing not to get offended is a redirecting of pride. It allows for a discussion without my whole person being affected. It allows me to be more objective and see someone else’s point of view much more clearly because I refuse to view it according to how it makes me feel, but instead hear it as their perspective. It’s listening and speaking my mind, but during the conversation, I set my pride on the shelf. If I can understand how they see the world, I open up the possibility of seeing them more fully and can refine my perspective and view it with greater depth. 4) I will not be controlled by my circumstances. My days will not be dictated by the things that come at me. Sometimes life can throw you a messy basket of circumstances. Choosing not to be dictated by those circumstances is rising above them. For example with young children, I will not decide how “good” my day will be based on the amount of sleep I got the night before. It’s the simple choice of seeing through the circumstances, which relinquishes their power and sets a pattern where I can make the conscious decision that I am not my circumstances. This simple release allows space for greater truth and joy. 5) I will fight for the big rocks. It may involve saying “no” more often because there is only so much time, but I must fight for the big rocks. It means not signing up for the things that are not the most important things to me to so that there is more space for the things that are. For me, I need positive words pouring into my head. It isn’t realistic that I am going to lay on the couch and read at this phase. I will either be jumped on by a child that I love or drift off into sleep so deep that I will wake up not knowing where I am. I can’t do all of the things, but I can do some great things if I cut and prune and craft and choose wisely. I’ll listen to those books while I fold the laundry that is staring me in the face, rather than cry over the books I so desperately want to read. I will be able to highlight phrases that I love in beautifully colored markers, but for now, I will fight for the big rocks. 6) I will trust that God knows better than I do. As I choose to live this way, my posture changes. It causes me to seek what He would have in each moment, to pray and trust Him fully. Living like God knows better than I do is key to the free life, because in that release of control He takes my anxieties, my expectations, my future, and my past. It allows me to hold loosely to what the world tells me is so important and to live in actual freedom. It is this principle that changes everything. It bleeds into all of the others because less of me and more of my Jesus will always be better. These are truths I will fight for because it’s worth it and because I believe at the end of it all if I can remain centered here, I will live my life closer the one I was created to live, more full and less hindered by the clutter and negativity that fights for my gaze. This is how I will choose to live. This is the free life, the life I never knew I always wanted.