We’re one week into the NEW YEAR…are you feeling “behind” yet? No? Just me? Ok. I had to come to terms with a few things last week, many thanks to one of my wisest, dearest, most truth-telling friends. Out of that conversation, God helped me to refocus and establish 5 intentional steps for approaching this year-no matter when you start! I had a rather lengthy list of personal goals that I hoped to accomplish before last year ended, as well as some specific things I felt God had called me to. As you may have guessed, I accomplished barely half of them. I tend to always set my goals a little high. That’s not a bad thing. But I fail to get realistic with what it will actually take to accomplish those goals, and I often ignore the fact that sometimes-life happens.
I always end the year with a lot of intentional reflection and prayer. Processing through what God taught me in the old year, and praying into what the new year will bring. I like to have fresh rhythms, vision, and plans going into a new year. And again, there is NOTHING wrong with that…I just can’t forget to also add in a little (or a lot!) grace.
Its not always easy for a perfectionist like me (shoutout to my other Enneagram 1’s…where my people at?! If you’re not familiar with it, the Enneagram is one of many personality profiles. These are not the entirety of who you are in Christ, but they can be a great tool for growing self-awareness!) When I feel that God has called me to do something, I can experience intense feelings of failure and discouragement if I don’t meet the goal. Which can then spiral into my personal brand of crazy- “I guess I just suck at life! I give up! I’m just not going to do ANYTHING anymore!” (Yes, I have been known to have snarky, dramatic temper tantrums. But God is good and He always brings me back to truth and sanity, and we’re working on this!)
Now, if you’re not like me and you’re doing GREAT with your New Year’s resolutions, lists, plans, goals, etc. then this post is clearly not for you. Congratulations on being awesome! Carry on, and catch up with the rest of us next week. We love and admire you.
However, if you’re anything like me, the process God takes us through can often be challenging. Especially if you’re part of the “microwave generation.” (Am I the only one who’s quit a new workout routine two weeks in because I didn’t see instant results?) So if you didn’t quite accomplish all your 2017 goals, if you have not yet asked the Lord for a word for 2018, if you still have some processing, praying, and reflecting to do- let me offer you this perspective shift that my dear friend so wisely shared with me in the midst of my crazy:
January doesn’t count.
There. That’s it. You’re welcome.
Here’s the truth- the “new year” is really an arbitrary point in time that we have culturally decided is this grand turning of the page. Which, chronologically speaking, is true. However, the beauty of being new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) is that every moment we live and breathe is an opportunity to be made new. To experience a fresh start. To receive grace.
If the family, holidays, cooking, kids being home on winter break, snow days (oh hey there 10 inches…us southerners have no clue what to do with you), or anything else over the past few weeks has thrown off your rhythms, routine, or goals-let me encourage you with this. DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t quit! “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9, emphasis mine)
I’ve decided that the first couple weeks of the new year are going to be my time of rest and reflection. If God intended for us to start our weeks with a period of Sabbath, then I absolutely believe we should begin our year that way as well. This doesn’t mean that life has to stop, but don’t miss out on leaning into all that God has in store for you this year simply because you haven’t got around to it yet. Reflect on the beauty and peace of the holidays. Get your tree down. Eat the last few cookies that are lying around. And take some time to intentionally pause, pray, and seek the Lord for a vision for the year.
Let’s just say that January is like spiritual tailgating. Its a great time to get around others who share your passion, fill up on fresh vision and God’s goodness, and get hype! Because when game time comes, ITS ON!
And remember, just because you get thrown off doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track! Here’s how I’m approaching the first part of this New Year:
1. Rest– I’m not rushing headlong into the year, but rather taking a moment to pause and get my bearings. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint. How am I stretching spiritual muscles? How am I leaning into spiritual disciplines?
2. Reflect– Where did I see God move last year? How did He bless us and really show up for us? How did He fulfill His word and promise to us last year?
3. Renew– My focus this year is to seek first. In all things, FIRST pray and THEN act. Before making a decision, commitment, or plan. Before speaking a word or taking a step. Seek first. What is God saying to me?
4. Regroup– The new season, word, or calling that God has for us will require new disciplines of us. What rhythms need to be shifted? What layers need to be added in? What do we need to stop, start, and continue doing? This is the moment to survey the path ahead, anticipate what God’s call will require of me, and train accordingly.
5. Respond– Move forward in faith and boldness! What will you do about what God has spoken to you? Like Paul, we are called to “press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed [us]. No, dear brothers and sisters, [we] have not achieved it, but [we] focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly price for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
I believe that God has so much in store for you this year…exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything you could ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20-21) So I invite you to join me, and LEAN IN to this new year, each new day, and every new moment that God is pouring His grace and goodness out on us!
If you’re looking for a resource to help you process through last year and pray into this year, check out “Hello-Goodbye”. I highly recommend this tool developed by my mentor and friends, Jo Saxton and Steph Williams.
Additionally, be sure to subscribe to receive a 5-part video series that includes a variety of tools you can use to reflect (2017) and project (2018). Much love friends!