I've always been intimidated by the start of a new year...
The expectation to be better, achieve more, set overarching goals, and generally step up my game makes me wonder what was so bad about what I was doing yesterday?
I fear that friends and colleagues will ask the dreaded question: "Did you make any New Years' Resolutions??" In my mind, I will grapple with what sounds appropriate to whomever has posed this question and respond generically because the truth is: I NEVER make New Years' Resolutions for fear that I won't accomplish what I've set out to do.
How will I measure if I've been successful?
How will I know what goals to pick?
How can I ensure that my goals are God's goals?
In the midst of a barely-over Christmas, the last thing I want to do is get all geared up to be busier and more stressed out in 2017. Often I place unrealistic expectations on myself and get discouraged when I don't meet my own standard.
Don't get me wrong- I'm a very goal-oriented person. But I like to work within my own timeframe. The self-fulfilling prophesy of an inevitable New Years' Resolution FAIL can generate migraines, upset stomachs, and general angst in my heart and mind.
So, my friends, there will be no year-long, lofty resolutions causing my heart to fear.
As a teacher, I provide opportunities for my students to succeed. Building confidence, instilling student ownership of learning and generating a desire for growth and knowledge all comes with the territory. So perhaps if I attempt to apply my teacher skill set to MYSELF for once, I could determine how to approach my resolution-resistant heart and take a measurable step forward in the new weeks, and months of 2017.
One small step...one measurable goal...one obtainable, confidence-boosting objective. Not a year-long escapade. Not 500 goals all listed out in bullet form. Not an unobtainable set of stress-inducing items, but JUST ONE focus.
In Matthew 22:35-39 a raucous crowd of Pharisees is attempting to embarrass and discredit Jesus by putting Him on the spot; forcing Him to neglect areas of the law by choosing just ONE important point:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment."
All of the hustle and bustle, the endless goal setting, the way we seek success by checking items off a list- all of this running in circles- leads back to one all-encompassing truth: LOVE GOD.
Love God with ALL of your HEART, SOUL, and MIND.
Yep. That IS a lofty one. I know I said I wasn't up for unobtainable goals, but this isn't just a GOAL- it's a COMMAND given to us by Jesus. Thankfully, He's perfectly lovable. Perfectly.
It honestly doesn't really matter if I read my Bible for 365 days straight this year- unless I love God while I'm reading.
It doesn't really matter if I expand my prayer time every day of 2017, if I'm not loving God more through it.
We can exercise more, eat better, stop going to Starbucks every day, and be more positive than we were in 2016; but none of these things matter if we aren't loving God through thick and thin. Going through the motions will not bring the satisfaction we seek.
Here are a few things I know for sure...
2017 is going to be hard. (Hopefully that fact doesn't surprise you!) It's going to be a mixture of joy and sorrow. Blessings and sufferings intermingled in a way that only by loving God will we make it through.
2017 is going to be unexpected. Every year God allows things that we could never predict, or prepare for. Every year we rely on Him more because we know we're not in control. HE IS. (And frankly- I love that about Him.)
2017 is going to be filled with blessings. The same blessings we held dear on December 31, 2016 are following us right into a new year; if only we acknowledge them. Our Good Father loves us and bestows us with abundant blessings. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
I'm not a long-term goal setter. Sorry folks- but I've been burned by my inability to predict the future and plan every step of my life, so now I'm more of a day-by-day kind of girl. You never know what a day may bring.
I'm intimidated by amazingly intelligent women who organize their minds in a productive, driven and visible way. But I need something smaller, more manageable, and more comforting to hold on to when I wake up in the morning feeling defeated by empty resolutions before I even take a shower.
So here's the plan... I'm going to ask myself every day for the next month:
What am I doing to love the Lord my God today?
What am I doing with my time? My energy? My mental capacity? What does God want me to do more of to show His love to those around me? What can I do to fulfill the greatest commandment given by the greatest Teacher of all?
Focus on one goal. Love God, love others, and tell about it!!
Happy New Year!!
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Revive Me Again
When circumstances bring us down, only God can revive our hearts.