When New Year’s Resolutions become your Tombstone Inscription
“You are a ray of sunshine that has always illuminated us with her resplendent gaze and smile. Your charisma, your wittiness, your kindheartedness, and your unconditional love inspire us to live like you, so that one day we can join you. You are eternal, Fofi. Let us continue feeling your sweetness and loving touch in our hearts. We love you.”
That is the tombstone inscription at my daughter’s grave.
I have spent over a month trying to figure out the final list of my New Year’s Resolutions. I write, edit, erase, cross out, rewrite, rethink, stress… and it’s still not over. You see, I’m not worried about writing things that I will not accomplish. My problem is quite the opposite: I WILL fulfill every single goal that’s on my list. I am a doer, the most motivated person I know, and I am a woman of my word.
I GET THINGS DONE.
“What, then, is the problem?” you may wonder.
The issue is that I will overwhelm and overwork myself just to check off those boxes… and I may miss the essence in the process.
That’s why I am so intentional about my resolutions. They can’t just be feasible. They have to be aligned with my priorities, values, and what really matters this very moment.
And that’s challenging.
Core values are usually consistent, but priorities change.
Sometimes it is really hard to anticipate how they may vary in the next 12 months. In fact, working with people in crisis (e.g. individuals enduring a serious disease, dealing with financial struggles, or facing the possibility of divorce) has taught me that it is best to live one-day-at-a-time. Doing so allows you to focus on today’s resolutions: those goals that you have to work on this very moment to be victorious in the present. With crisis, I’ve also learned that the simplest daily goals are often the ones of greatest impact and utmost significance… like being able to pass gas after a digestive surgery or showing compassion to your spouse when what you really feel like doing is yelling.
But those “one-day-at-a-time” goals always come from a higher intention.
The big resolutions guide the smaller daily ones. The passing gas is a step to regaining good health and the compassionate gesture is a step towards humility and a more fulfilling marriage. I ask myself daily, “Is this decision going to hinder my ultimate goals or is it congruent with them?”
Resolutions also hold me accountable, remind me of my purpose, and keep me grounded.
Because they are based on my values, in moments of confusion they help me regain perspective. For example, if I were to struggle financially, referring to my resolutions will remind me that money is just gravy and that I am blessed with everything I really need.
My resolutions must also bring me peace.
I may not always have clarity in my life, but I must always feel peace. It is through tranquility in my mind and heart that God speaks to me, confirming whether or not my decisions come from Him. Hence, making these so called New Year’s resolutions also involves having the time to tune in with my faith so that I have the wisdom to understand what the Man Upstairs wants from me next year.
So as you can see, New Year’s Resolutions are a big deal for me!
But I hadn’t found peace with my list this year, until I attended a funeral mass this last week of the year.
That’s when I finally made some quiet time to listen to what God was trying to tell me all along (change your voice now to a mysterious one coming from the clouds): “Betsy, what if instead of writing overwhelmingly detailed resolutions, you focus on that one thing you want to be remembered by when you die?”
What do I want for people to say in my eulogy?
What will my tombstone inscription read?
Having experienced the loss of my little angel has helped me understand the value of living a life with purpose. I have witnessed firsthand the power of my Fofi’s legacy. She continues to touch hearts, bring smiles, and change lives, even after her earthly life ended. Did she have fancy resolutions at age 2 to accomplish this?
After mass, I rushed to my list. My goals could be grouped into categories: family, career, and personal/spiritual growth. Based on the fulfillment of those resolutions, my tombstone will most likely read something like:
“Here lies the wife that cooked, cleaned, and took care of her husband.”
“Here lies the mom that attended every single event of her children.”
“Here lies the psychologist that followed up and followed through with her clients.”
“Here lies the daughter, sister, cousin, niece, granddaughter, and friend that always tried to be come a better version of herself.”
This is all great, but there’s a problem… I gave my daughter most of the space in the tombstone inscription that we will most likely share. I need something shorter, yet impactful.
What is that one value that underlies my resolutions? If I die in the new year, what will I want to be remembered by?
And then the priest’s words from this week’s funeral mass resonated in my ears: “Love is being capable of forgetting about oneself to think of another.”
LOVE is being CAPABLE
of FORGETTING about oneself
to think of ANOTHER.
Love is having the capacity to forget about what I really want to put what another person wants as my priority.
It hit me! That’s what I want to be known by!
I want people to think of me as a lov-er.
I’m not a wife. I’m a lov-er. Hey, I don’t just mean it that way. I adore my husband and anything I do to make him happy, I do with immense love.
I’m not a psychologist; I’m a lover. I love my clients so much that I can’t help but check up on them in between sessions and have them always present in my thoughts and prayers.
I’m not a mom. I’m a lover. I attend my kids’ events and am intentionally present because I want them to feel special and loved.
Maternal love has taught me that I am “capable of forgetting” about my relentless desire to hold Fofi, and feel truly happy that she is enjoying eternal bliss with our Heavenly Father.
I am a lover and it is my love towards people and God that drives my desire to be better.
And that’s all I really need to include on my New Year’s Resolutions. Hence, my final list for 2018:
1. I WILL DO EVERYTHING WITH LOVE.
My Tombstone inscription: