Last week at this time, you were undoubtedly busy, maybe even overwhelmed. There was so much to do. Decorating. Baking. Buying gifts. Wrapping them and adding them to the growing pile under your tree. And in the midst of it all, you hoped to carve out space and time for the meaning of the season to fill your mind and heart.
Already, things have changed. I see neighbors discarding their Christmas trees at the curb. Gifts have been exchanged and hover boards returned. Glittering decorations are being removed. Houses feel empty.
In a short week, most of us have reacted to the excesses of accumulation with a longing for the opposite, stark minimalism. We feel a need to simplify our lives. Declutter our stuff. Purge papers. Lose weight. Organize. Streamline.
But first, let’s stop for a moment and reflect on the year that’s winding down. In 2015, what were your blessings? Your difficulties? What brought the biggest joys in your life? The most taxing challenges? How did God meet you in both?
What are your hopes for 2016? What do you dream of happening?
What can you change in the new year? What’s within your control? What’s weighing you down and getting in the way of where you want to be? Maybe you can’t alter circumstances, but you can steer your attitude, your response to those circumstances, in a different path.
I like to set specific, measurable, and attainable goals–not resolutions. And rather than make a promise that I know I won’t keep (I’ll never ever eat another cookie again, ever), I offer my goal as a prayer to God, asking Him for His help and His guidance. I ask Him to show me what I can do.
I think through different dimensions of life, using the following questions as a guide.
Spiritual. Is your relationship with the Lord intimate and growing? Are there sins that need to be confessed and forsaken? Anyone you need to ask forgiveness of, or you need to forgive? What about your prayer life? Your plan for Bible reading and study?
Physical. Are you getting regular exercise? Eating healthfully? Sleeping well? If not, what can you do to change this? Are there any habits hindering you?
Mental. How can you stretch your mind? What will you read? Any new skills you want to learn? Can you start, or finish, a class or a degree program? What about your creative life?
Emotional. Are your interpersonal relationships healthy? Do you let people know the real you? Do your listening skills need to be sharpened? Any personal areas you want to address and develop?
Financial. Do you have debts to pay off? What about investing for the future? Can you give more, or more consistently, to the Lord’s work?
Ministry. Think about people in your life you can initiate with to help them see Jesus. Are there opportunities you can pursue where you might use the gifts, strengths, or experiences that God has given you?
Sometimes we need to let go of something before we can add something else.
Trimming the excess and having clear goals brings freedom. It provides a chance for a do-over. But it’s not just relegated to January 1st. Every morning you can wake up to a fresh start with Christ.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23
What a beautiful message Taryn .. thank you. I am so blessed and grateful to know you and Steve, I wish we lived closer and hope to one day come for a visit since California is not on your travel itinerary often now that kids have their own fsmilies.
The work you do is amazing, truly God’s work. I start each day with a simple prayer, God, I ask that you remove every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows as I go out today to do your bidding. Grant me strength and courage to change what I can, acceptance of people places and things I cannot change and help me do Thy Will and not My will in all my affairs, just for today. Thank you God for another day to help others.
Deanna, your simple prayer is actually very profound, and very beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. I wish we lived closer, too!