Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No More ACTing, Just Being

On January 1, 2013, I posted my resolution/word for the year--to act.

"The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react."
--George Bernard Shaw
I summarized my three-part goal by recording this statement that day:

"I want 2013 to be a year of intentional action, a year of controlling my reactions, a year of prayerfully finding 365 ways to serve others."

I started out the year fully committed to acting--planning my days, controlling my temper, and daily praying for ways to serve others--and through the course of 2013, I held myself accountable by posting a monthly evaluation of my efforts.  I even wore a necklace (imprinted with the word "act") around my neck nearly every day for the entire year--a permanent talisman to focus my year and my days and hours on acting.
My dedication to these three ways of acting  fluctuated greatly.  January was stellar, and I told of palpable change in myself.  Most months, however, found me recounting failures and shortcomings--never fully regaining the change I had experienced earlier in the year. Ironically, I started to not berate myself so much on how often I failed (which was most of the time), but I began to see how I was growing and softening and changing in bigger ways.  I wrote this in July:

"This month I realized that what I had always dubbed "failure to accomplish" is actually just called "room for improvement." That realization led to fewer days where I beat myself up for falling short of what I had hoped to accomplish goal-wise. This was a big step for a goal-oriented gal like me. I wouldn't say that I've reached a point where this falling short is acceptable, but recognizing that it is okay is the first step."

I began to understand what Jeffrey R. Holland meant when he said, "Not failure but low aim would be the most severe indictment [of a person]." When I had originally aimed high, I thought that success would only be attained by perfection.  I began to see that the journey and the attempt were achievements of their own. One day in September, as I was absentmindedly fingering my act necklace (which I was wearing daily by this point), I noticed something different about it.

The once-round pearl was now flattening on the side where it rubbed constantly against the silver disk.  Daily wear and the movements of life had actually changed the shape of the pearl.  I rubbed it for a moment, then I understood that this pearl was a parallel for my soul.

I had experiences during the year that taught me great lessons about acting--I saw how others controlled their reactions (especially from Ben when I forgot to register him for the ACT, irony notwithstanding), and I recognized small changes in myself when I controlled my reaction when a young woman rear-ended my Suburban.

I then looked at the necklace in the mirror, and I noticed that not only had the pearl changed shape from bouncing against the disk, but the disk had also changed from daily contact with the pearl--a small crescent-shaped groove had been worn into its face.

Not only had I been changed, but my actions had changed others around me as well. I gave lunch to a wandering homeless man one day, and on another day, I interrupted my crazy holiday dinner shopping to help an older gentleman find the butterscotch morsels his wife had asked him to buy.  I played with my children even when I had pressing homework assignments, and I stepped out of my comfort zone to follow a prompting and reach out to a dear friend who lost her unborn twins.  The biggest compliment I received all year was from Heidi when I was visiting her a few weeks ago.  She said that she noticed a change in me this past year--mellower, more accepting, less intense.

The lessons don't end there.
When I removed my necklace this evening to photograph it, I noticed a very, very small dark spot on the upper corner of the disk. I could see that this spot on the disk had been worn down by the clasp of the chain which was forever twisting around to the front by the charm and rubbing a little groove at that small spot. Until that moment, I hadn't even seen this change to my necklace, and that's when the final lesson of 2013 came to my mind. The difference between who I am now as compared to me one year ago can't just be measured in the 365 days of one year, and hopefully, these improvements will manifest themselves in very, very small spots and interactions throughout the rest of my life.

So in this final blogging act of 2013, I write as a changed person--not the completely purposeful, fully controlled, and ever service-minded woman I had envisioned a year ago, but as someone I never anticipated.  Someone who isn't just acting, but someone who has become.

Someone better. 


  1. Im so glad Heidi noticed a change...hopefully it made all the hard work worth it to hear that! The changes in your necklace are so cool...love the image it left in my head!

  2. Wonderful job. I usually forget my resolutions soon after the beginning of the year, and I love how you've kept up with this. It's been enlightening to read of your journey.

  3. I loved this post. So often we set a goal and envision accomplishing it, but what we end up achieving can be a bit different - but so much more than we'd hoped for. Great job! You've inspired me, and I think that's one of the basic things we're here to do: to help and inspire each other as we strive for knowledge and growth in ourselves.

  4. Very good post. You have held yourself very accountable.

    Great analogy of how you have seen the changes. You have had an amazing year.

    Look forward to reading how you take on the next one!!!!
    Bring it on.

  5. Love this, not just the writing, but your whole experience. I am looking forward to learning more i need to chat with you. I am feeling like I need those same changes Heidi noticed. Happy New Year! Ant wait to see what 2014 brings you....besides new grandbabies!!

  6. You give us a bad name.....and have your son register himself for ACT- he is old enough.