I wonder how you are doing with your New Year resolutions or any other goals and challenges that you’ve set yourself?
If you’re like me, and most people, then you’ll be struggling. It’s really hard to embed new habits and make progress towards your goals, even when you know how much they will contribute to a happier and healthier life.
It’s so frustrating.
But I’ve come to see that most of us – when planning a new resolution or a project – set off without the equipment we really need to get the job done.
So here are three things that we often forget about but are totally essential:
Having suffered with psoriasis for many years – decades in fact – I’ve often tried experimenting with my diet to see if cutting out dairy or going gluten free might make a difference. The problem is, however, that I’m never able to stick to the diet long enough to assess the result. It’s just too hard.
Last September, however, I joined a private Facebook community for people trying out veganism (basically non dairy vegetarianism.)
In this group of people – all strangers from all over the globe - I made new friends and was much encouraged (and kept on the non-dairy straight and gluten-free narrow) by hearing their stories – their successes and failures. I’d check in once or twice a day and got to know people. We would share tips and recipes. But most importantly we were all, for various different reasons, on the same journey. And travelling together made all the difference.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve been a gluten free vegan now for six months and my skin condition has completely cleared up.
When I my first three children were little, I had a full time job. Although there was money to help, I was constantly struggling to arrange childcare for school drop offs, pick ups and holidays. It felt like an organisational nightmare and often things went wrong and my daughter would complain that she’d had to sit for an hour outside the staffroom yet again, waiting for someone to collect her.
When I had my fourth child, I took a break from full time work and did the drop offs and pick ups myself. There were often times when I couldn’t do this – I was still doing some part time work and, of course, stuff happens. But this time there was always someone willing to help.
Why was this? What was the difference?
Well, the difference was, of course, community. This time – just by being in the playground most mornings and afternoons, I’d got to know the other mums and dads of all my children’s friends. I happily helped them out when they needed me to. And they helped me out. We worked together. And arranging childcare was not a stress -but something that we all managed and contributed to together.
Sometimes people tell me that they are interested in exploring faith. But they don’t want to go to Church.
Can’t they just be spiritual, they ask, without having to give up Sunday mornings?
The question is rather like asking can you make a major change to your diet without the support of others trying to do the same? Well, yes you can, in theory. But, no – in practice, you probably won’t succeed.
It’s rather like asking can you arrange stress free childcare among other school parents without ever being in the playground and getting to know them? Well, yes you can, in theory. But, no – in practice, you probably won’t succeed.
So, if you want to explore faith, you need to find a community where other people are doing the same thing. And you can do that in real life by going along to a church. Or you can also do it online.
I’ve just set up a completely closed and private Facebook community for people who want to see whether the Christian faith can help you find a more faithful, hopeful and loving life. Whether it can help you move from sickness to health, from overwhelm to calm, from low self-esteem to high, from negativity to joy. As it has done for me.
To join the group subscribe here – and join me and others who will support you on your faith journey.
Community is not a soft fuzzy thing just for those of us with too much time on our hands or too little important stuff to do. It’s a crucial resource that is often overlooked and, without which, we will not get far.
Without the support of community, we are unlikely to meet our goals – even the most simple of them – like finding joy in life.
So let’s recommit to the things that matter most – to all our precious and life enhancing goals. And let’s achieve them with the help of three vital things: community, community and community!