A new year often brings new intentions. For example, thousands of people may join a gym, only to wind up hardly ever going. But we all have much deeper intentions and expectations working within us all of the time. For example, we all have a circle we have built around ourselves. We only allow our lives to exsist within this circle. Perhaps it's a circle of fear, or one of what we think ought to be proper or spiritual or appropriate choices. But what if there are countless opportunities waiting outside of that circle that ARE appropriate for us, but we have trained ourselves to avoid them? And what about the people we encounter in our daily lives? Have you ever thought, I would NEVER do a thing like that, or how could he/she have done that, or I wouldn't be caught dead dressed like that? Maybe it would do us some good to expand our horizons and try something different. Our personal boundaries were set in place by us, but probably due to influence from our parents, teachers, churches, or other people we may have looked up to at some point in time. Some feel God himself has set boundaries that they must stay inside of.

So without being disrespectful to your morals or ethics, have you ever thought about venturing outside of that comfortable little circle you've imprisoned yourself behind? Go where you 'wouldn't be caught dead' and look around. Notice the people. They are probably not that different from you. Wear the clothes you'd 'never be seen in' and see if you are treated any differently. Try the thing you'd never do, such as skydiving, going on that trip, volunteering or whatever it may be that you wouldn't be comfortable doing. Notice how it may be exciting and rewarding, and not at all uncomfortable or frightening as you thought it would be. Now how about expanding your beliefs and expectations? Change 'I would never make that much money' to 'perhaps I can become wealthy'. More importantly, change 'I would never do what she did' to 'She must have had reasons and I respect that, without knowing what the reasons are'. If you believe in sin, know that we all sin differently. We each have both wolves living inside of us, struggling to be the master. You know someone is stealing at work and you've lost respect for them? What about looking within and noticing your own faults? Perhaps you've lied or cheated on a test, or done wrong to someone. Just because you sin differently does not make you better. You'd never steal? The person who does is sinning in a different way than you, but you cannot judge them. None of us are able to be perfect, which means none of us have the right to judge someone else.

So with this new year ahead, why not set your intention on breaking out of your own comfort zone, but also to recognize that none of us is perfect, and to expect faults to appear in ourselves, but also in our friends, co-workers, families, and even clergy. Are we all just human after all? No, we are all Gods in human form. Our ego wants us to forget about that, and to keep us believing we are 'only' human. We are made of spirit, with human temptations and frailties. When our life here ends, our human nature will dissolve, leaving our authentic self to continue our journey. What will you take with you? As we offer more compassion, more forgiveness, more love, especially to ourselves as well as others, we create a better version of ourselves, something we can enjoy throughout our lives and beyond. Happy 2019.