A Year of Devotion

2018 is upon us. 2017 was a wild ride for me (mostly in really really really great ways—London, Paris, Dublin, loads of movies and books, and of course marrying Cece), so here’s to a new year. I’ve been a fan of Resolutions for a while, though my approach to them varies and shifts frequently. This year I decided to follow in the footsteps of Cece (and others) and choose a word to focus my year around. It took some thinking, but the word I settled on is DEVOTION. I like it for its versatility and for its depth of feeling. It seems applicable to my marriage, my religious and spiritual life, and my academic/work life.

I settled on devotion because of that versatility, because it allows me to improve in the main areas of my life that I want to work on and find the most valuable. It also for me signals an increase in attentiveness, in the quality of the time that is spent not necessarily the quantity (though it will likely also require that to some extent). The intensity of feeling evoked by “devotion” is appealing to me. I love this idea of more intensely and clearly focusing on things (I’ve felt a bit wayward in my academic and religious life, just sort of aimlessly wandering, going through the motions, not quite invested and while I feel quite connected and devoted to Cec currently, I want to proactively keep that happening rather than letting it die and needing to resurrect it at some future date).

WITH CEC

We’ve been married all of 11 days and it has been just blissful. I want to keep this level of connection. I’m not naïve and know that we’ll face challenges and irritate one another and all that and that life is hard and will get rough, but precisely because of that I want to ensure that I do what I can to build/share/have devotion with and to Cec. We’ve set up some goals to keep that in place (and our shared Resolution Word is Connection, related I think to devotion). Anyway, I want to build our love even more, to continue to find ways to serve each other, to help out, to be grateful for one another.

I want to kiss her when we part for the day and when we reunite. Hold her hand when we’re walking places together. Tell her I love her at least daily. Share everything with her, even the boring minutia that she doesn’t care about on its own, but does because I do. Listen as she shares that same stuff with me. Ask about her day. Talk. Laugh. Watch tv. Eat together. Any and all ways that we can show our devotion to each other.

SPIRITUAL

You may have noticed that my blog posts trailed off starting in October or so and I want to fix that. (I have noted the deficit from my weekly posts and have posts planned to cover it, which should be up over the next couple of months.) I want to blog every week, to get back in that habit of working through spiritual ideas with the written word.

I want to be more engaged in my ward—Fall Semester I was very engaged, but definitely not in my ward (I know I know, it’s terrible, but I couldn’t resist). We’re in a new ward, full of married students, so it’ll be nice/terrifying to have a fully fresh start like that. I want to be better prepped for Sunday School—looking over the material beforehand and coming with questions or thoughts or things to share and learn. And same for EQ (I’m highly skeptical of the new curriculum, but am hoping the latitude has some promising results. If not, I’ll still have my fruit snacks). I want to make sure I bring my notebook to write down thoughts and impressions in and to try to have some sort of thought, comment, etc for each of the three hours. We’ll see how that goes.

Cec and I are also working on our own sort of discussion group to engage with the Old Testament in ways that may be less welcome or feel more vulnerable than we want at Church, which should help me feel an added sense of spiritual devotion and finally engage with the Old Testament in a way that I have been wanting to do for at least the past 5-6 years since I got home from my mission.

I want to continue to fine tune my prayers and daily devotions (Cec and I have been reading the lectionary every night and plan on doing that all year). I’ve taken to writing my prayers as journal entries of sorts, which I like, but is still awkward at times and I haven’t quite figured out how to best shift the tone and style to serve as prayers in a way that still feels natural. Anyway, I like it, but need to tweak it still.

ACADEMIC

This should be a big academic year for me—graduating with my Master’s degree and applying to PhD programs. I’ll be taking a year off school to work and make some money while Cec finishes up her degree, but there’s some large academic work to be done. I need to finish my thesis, defend it, and graduate. I’m planning on submitting another article for publication (I had one published in Criterion, BYU’s literary criticism journal, just barely).

I need to select schools to apply to and begin work on those applications, figuring out what exactly I want to do and where and with whom (most likely choice right now is 19th-Century British literature, with a focus on the postsecular, though I might throw in a divinity school or two for kicks). That process will almost assuredly include studying for and taking the GRE Literature Subject Test (which promises to be truly hellish).

Anyway, I’ve finally refound a groove in my academic studies that I love (this postsecular business, which is basically studying spirituality in literature) and am super pumped to continue to explore it and see what there is ahead. If you happen to have insights into PhD applications, grad life in the humanities, or anything related please reach out (or if you know about divinity schools or have a revelation about the other thing I should actually do with my life).

Well, there’s a little taste of my goals for DEVOTION this year. Help me. Ask me how stuff is going, share insights of how you’ve been devoted, ask questions, etc. Anyway, here’s to 2018, my year of devotion and your year of whatever you choose!

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