Even though I’m not much of a planner or long term goal setter, I am an eternal optimist and so have regularly looked at the start of the new year as a chance to make a fresh start, set a new plan or make some kind of change.
Of course, over the years, there’s been the obligatory weight loss and fitness goals; the re-setting of spiritual disciplines like prayer; Bible reading and devotions; home renos and maintenance; and a random collections of hobbies attempted, romances hoped for and travel destinations dreamed of. But in more recent years I’ve shifted to reflecting on the past year and looking to the next one through the lens of a series of questions.
Here’s my list …
- How’s my walk with God?
Each of our reflections on this would be unique to our personal relationship with God. For me, it looks like finding joy in Him and a growing awareness of His presence and guiding. Those things are evidenced in my sense of contentment and rest, and my fulfilment in participation in His kingdom work. And they are fueled by regular time in His Word, (I’ve just marked 7 years of not missing a day of Bible reading) worship and mission, hanging out with others who are pursuing Him and hearing testimony of Him at work.
- Have I finished my project?
Each year I take on a project. A few years back it was a new kitchen. After that it was a garden makeover. Last year it ended up being writing a book. This year it was fixing the now-famous cracks in my ceiling and walls. I nailed that one…with 7 days to spare!!! (You can still smell the smell of fresh paint in here!)
- Am I fit and healthy?
That’s what it has to be about right? And it becomes a more helpful general assessment rather than the potentially unrealistic goals of specific measurements. That being said, the answer this year is “no”! But there’s hope for a back injury to be rectified and to get back on track as we start the new year. Clearly some disciplines need to be put in place to make the goal of health and fitness achievable.
- Am I exploring new ministry opportunities?
I want to keep growing all the time. I want to be maximising the giftings God has given me by increasing my skill and capacity to be ready to respond to all He asks me to do. This year I became a published author (eek) which opened some fun ministry doors for me. I stepped into a leadership role with a national Christian leadership development organisation. I did a radio interview! I was invited to minister interstate and across the state. I preached many times to thousands of people – youth, church communities, parents and leaders. Our church built a new facility which stretched us as a team into new thinking, planning and leadership. It’s been a full year.
- Am I open to “relationship”?
Putting “get married” on my to-do list doesn’t really align with my higher value of just wanting what God wants more than anything my heart would desire. This question prompts me to be sure I’m being the best me, maximising my now-season, and being open to opportunities to meet new people and explore relationship should it present itself. The rest is up to Him!
- How are my relationships with family & friends?
I want to be a good daughter, sister, Aunty and friend. I do this with varying degrees of success. Sometimes I manage to be much more available than others. I am determined to be fully present when I am there. I want more than anything for my family and friends to have me on their list of people of whose love they are assured. That will mean different things for different family and friends. Definitely a work in progress.
- Am I living life to the full?
Sometimes days are hard – sometimes those days string together and there are hard seasons. When I can, with what I have, I want to live the best version of my life. I want to manage my finances to be a faithful tither and a generous giver. Travel when I can, eat good food, see good theatre and laugh …as much as I can …with as many people as I can. I don’t want to ever live on hold. I want to see new places and try new things. I don’t want the monotonous demands of “normal life” (the bins go out, the bills get paid, the clothes get washed etc) to spill out and make any other aspect of my life boring or ordinary. This year I’m taking tap dancing lessons!!!!
So “this year I will” look at these questions again and see what God has in store for each of these facets of my life. Buoyed by the belief that the best is still to come and in the highs and the lows God will be leading, providing and sustaining.
Bring on 2016!!!