The Januaries

Sherri Lewis asked me out for lunch one day and over that afternoon chat it became apparent that this young woman is hungry to grow, hungry to serve, hungry to learn and in all that hunger she had started her own ministry called Hungry Women with a huge desire to see women freed up the the slavery from food and body image issues and find peace and joy with themselves.  And here she sat with me over lunch wanting to also serve on the Collide team! Sherri has served for nearly two years on our team and lives her life pursuing God and serving Him and her community! In this blog it is like Sherri replaces our phrase having a case of the “Mondays” with having a case of the “Januaries!” – Willow

 Sherri my story

When January rolls around and people start dropping four letter words left and right, there’s one in particular I think we can all relate to: DIET. I hear conversations about losing weight, tight pants, if only I didn’t eat that, plans to eat only vegetables, or no carbs, or getting “back on the wagon” (as if there was a wagon in the first place). January 1st comes, dieting resolutions are underway and we will finally be happy in the bodies we have once we get back on the wagon and start fresh with only veggies and water and lots of squats, or maybe burpees (or both simultaneously).

And it doesn’t end there, when January comes around we find a lot of things that we need to fix besides our flabby thighs and arm wings. We know there are many things we got wrong, and that need to get right, and get right fast. We need to be better money managers, better friends, better wives, better leaders, better employees, the list goes on. It is this list that becomes our New Years’ Resolutions.

On the flipside, there are those who have set resolutions year after year, experienced hope and excitement, and yet they failed. They believe it’s not even worth it this year. Why even try? Resolutions have failed the last forty Januaries and this year is no different.

As I weigh these two sides of the coin, I relate to both. I relate to going on “New Year, New You” diets, starting budgets that never last, joining new committees and groups to make a difference and impact the world, yet being exhausted, not fulfilled, and still in search. I also relate to feeling like a failure, like it’s not worth it, like I never will get it. Why even try?

The reality is that when I look back on all the Januaries in my life, I realize that I started out with hope only to come to February 15th to realize it’s all pointless; my life simply is a treadmill of monotony and hopelessness. If this isn’t the case on February 15th, you can bet that I just assumed that position on January 1st. Either way, the end result leads me to believe the same thing: I am not enough, I shouldn’t even try, just accept things the way they are.

As I ponder these thoughts and consider all my former Januaries, I really relate to the words Paul shares in Romans:

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  (Romans 7:15-18)

The problem with either side of this Resolution coin is that both sides are really only as effective and helpful as the bar or standard against which they are measured – the law, as Paul calls it. The world around us will ALWAYS lead us to a place of hopelessness, discouragement, and ultimately failure when we engage in what it is telling us to do, or what we perceive it is telling us. We might perceive that the world wants us to be skinny, buff, rich, generous, charitable, friendly, smiley, always happy, always offering a helping hand, giving… well, you get the picture. This list of what we should be is what we are told by others, including the media and even people around us whom we trust.

This year though I am realizing that my list doesn’t have to have any of these things on it. I do not have to lose weight, make more friends, smile more, be more involved in this or that, or make more money. These are not bad in and of themselves, but they are not “have to’s” or “need to’s,” and they are not where I should start.   

What has led me now to a place of peace and rest is starting with the realization that I simply am who I am, who God has created me to be, and it is enough. I am so filled with peace and joy that while in this world I may not look like much, in Christ’s eyes I am enough and more. I am made perfectly. He is living in me and working out His perfect will, not my own, and definitely NOT anything like what I see in the world or others around me.

What’s more is that this is not a destination to achieve or work toward believing about yourself; it simply IS. The only bridge from where you are now, to accepting this about yourself, is faith. I have learned to have faith that God has created me to be where I am, who I am, and with whomever I am with for a reason, a really good and perfect one. God’s plan cannot be thwarted as Job says: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:1,3)

I have learned to step back from setting goals and resolutions (while these are not bad) and surrender my will to God’s will, for His plan is far greater than my own. I have had to surrender trying to fit into some ‘type’ of person that I think I should be based on world’s standards, or based on those around me that seem to “have it all.” I realize that it all starts with accepting who I am in Christ and understanding He has a lot more going on than what I see. This is evident especially when I look back and see where God has brought me. The journey I have been on has been rocky, full of struggles and pain, and discouraging at many points, but I see God’s hand.

It has been a long and exhausting road to realize that God’s the one working on my behalf. Really, it is not that He is working (though He is), it is that He did the work already! It says in Romans, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” and as you read on further, Paul states that this one righteous act led to the free gift of righteousness to all, as well as abundant grace and a justified life. “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)

What has brought me my own peace and joy is accepting that even on my worst days, with failed efforts and resolutions, I remember that I am created by God and I am loved as I am. God’s plan will not be thwarted no matter how many failed Januaries go by. God’s plans and HIS resolutions for your life are waiting for you. Simply rest in His promises and remind yourself that you are loved just as you are and God’s grace has you covered. Let go of trying on your own and remember, “He has come that you might have life abundantly.” (John 10:10).

God came to save you and save me, and the work has been done. Simply trust.

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  • Vicki Johnson says:

    Well Hellooooo Sherri, I accidentally stumbled on this piece written by you, and I need to tell you how impressed I am. Who would have known this young girl I worked with changing dirty pants, cleaning up the kitchen, floor mopping 101, putting work away, wiping snotty noses, comforting children who did not want to stay at school, and the countless other chores at Montessori would turn out to be such a marvelous writer, christian, and woman. ( I always knew you were great ). I am so proud to know you. Thank you for lifting my spirits today–I really needed to hear your words, and may God continue to bless you with his grace and peace!!!!! Your OLD friend Vicki

    • Sherri says:

      Hey Vicki!! What a complete joy it is to hear from you!! You truly impacted my life in incredible ways. That was a challenging time for me, yet I was so incredibly blessed by you and Rita and the little kiddos. God really used you in my life during that season. Today, people wouldn’t even know me for that part of my life (especially the wiping of kids snot), but it truly is a great part of who I am! I miss you and love seeing pictures here and there on facebook of the happenings in your life :). Thank you for commenting and sharing your words! Your wisdom has touched me and been a part of where I have gotten to today :). So I thank YOU!