I’m sick of hearing about New Year’s resolutions, so as I begin 2023, I hereby refuse to make any.
I’d also appreciate it if Noom would stop sending me emails. I have no 2023 plans to darken the door of a gym.
I will make no promises to run anywhere unless someone is chasing me, and I can’t even claim I’ll spend more time in prayer and meditation. Just being honest.
Since Covid-19, we’ve all encouraged each other to push forward, to celebrate getting through it, to feel relief that it’s over (which, by the way, it isn’t). But there’s something comforting to me about skipping aspirational thinking this year.
Instead, I’m taking a few moments to savor the gifts of a year already lived: the lessons I learned, the discoveries I made, the clear shifts in the way I’m thinking and living, the delicious food I enjoyed, the pain that softened hard edges and invited me to examine my life with intention, the joy I felt, and the times I laughed and laughed and laughed.
I wondered if there might be anybody else out there not quite ready to turn the page on 2022 without recalling some of the gifts of this year. So, I non-scientifically social media-surveyed my world to share even more widely some of the answers you shared with me.
(Disclaimer: I can’t vouch for these, but I do have really cool friends so I’d expect this list might be worth investigating.)
In the category of delicious food, you told me that your world was rocked by this French Toast recipe. You suggested gelato tastes especially wonderful when consumed on a sidewalk in Rome. Apparently, this truffle oil hot sauce will completely change your life, and if you haven’t been eating spelt berries on your oatmeal, your life has been up until now considerably lacking.
On the list of experiences, visiting the Oregon Coast gets an honorable mention, along with experiencing the wonder and amazement of a two-year-old holding your hand.
In the category of life-changing gadgets, it appears that many lives were improved in 2022 by battery-powered cork removers, digital meat thermometers, and these battery-powered salt and pepper/whole spice grinders.
People swear by their belgian-style waffle makers and it has been suggested that you run out immediately to replace your dishwasher with a three-rack model Bosch.
You also told me that 2022 taught you to slow down and savor life. That you were finally honest with yourself that Imposter Syndrome is real, but you decided this year not to let it stop you from trying anyway.
And some of you learned that when you begin to understand your faith as “doing good and healing people,” changing the world is actually possible.
For me, 2022 was a year of continued healing. I, too, traveled to the Oregon Coast, which I highly recommend. Covid-19 grounded us, but in 2022 I traveled enough to reawaken my sense of adventure. And the beauty of the New Hampshire coastline and the terrain of Tucson, Arizona, made me believe Louis Armstrong again: what a wonderful world.
I made some really amazing new friends who dropped into my life from out of the blue. And I loved many books this year, but Lessons in Chemistry (don’t be fooled by the cover), Mad Honey and In Every Mirror She’s Black were my favorite reads.
And, absolutely do not let any time pass before you see “Last Flight Home,” a beautiful documentary film about the end of life (pastors: show this at church during Lent?).
In the less erudite categories of 2022 gifts, I became a truly (and I say this with all humility) phenomenal Facebook Marketplace purveyor/consumer. I can declare with a rare certainty that my life has been changed by this rechargeable candle lighter, one of which now lives in every room of my home.
And I’ve become a student of The Points Guy, freshly determined to do whatever it takes to travel the world on airline points as much as I possibly can.
Half Baked Harvest is my go-to for amazingly delicious recipes, and that life feels 500% brighter when I don’t drink alcohol. Who knew?
National City Christian Church helped me believe again that all the pain and beauty of faith community is worth the investment.
This year, I heard again a phrase I’ve heard many times over the course of my life: “You’re just too much.” But this year, I realized for the first time that I have always missed the two most important words left off the end of that sentence: “…for me.” And that’s ok.
I watched as my young adult children took some hard hits from life. And I observed with awe as they navigated them with grace, maturity and an ability to be honest even through their pain. They grew and became more of who they are, and they made me proud.
I realized that Jesus’ parable of throwing out seeds is not actually about who makes the cut for heaven, but rather about the fact that nothing we have actually belongs to us. Our job is only to live with hands and hearts open to a world in need.
Doing the work of Invested Faith, helping faith communities reimagine their futures, is my deep calling and joy – that I learned for sure.
And I may have finally gotten it through my head that living the life you love is so much better than living the life you should. And, like many of you, I learned (again) to listen to the voice of my fear and ask her to please take a seat while I do the scary things anyway.
To quote our National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman: “If nothing else, this must be known: Even as we’ve grieved, we’ve grown. … We are battered, but bolder; worn, but wiser. If anything, the very fact that we’re weary means we are, by definition, changed; we are brave enough to listen to, and learn from, our fear. This time will be different because this time we’ll be different. We already are.”
What a year of gifts 2022 was. Some hard-earned, unexpected and even deeply unwelcome. Some beautiful surprises we never saw coming.
A little bit of all of that and more will now take us into 2023, whose gifts lie just ahead of us, if only we’ll pay attention.
Happy New Year!
Founder of Invested Faith, she previously served as pastor of several churches, including as the seventh senior minister and first woman at the helm of The Riverside Church in the City of New York. Butler holds degrees from Baylor University, the International Baptist Theological Seminary and Wesley Theological Seminary. She is a contributing correspondent at Good Faith Media.