A new year has begun and with it the zealous promises of people all over the world vowing to live a better today and a better tomorrow. While I’m pretty cynical when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I do agree there’s something a bit magical about the mental fresh start we get at the beginning of a new calendar year. We all need an excuse to hit the reset button from time to time in an effort to clear the air and move forward.
But maybe we shouldn’t rush ahead with our new goals and resolutions without first reflecting backwards. We quickly shuffle past our failures from the previous year and jump ahead to let’s-fix-it mode. Or we experience some success and we’re immediately on to the next thing on our list. Maybe instead of moving on so fast, we just need to sit in it all for awhile and ponder how we got here. What happened last year? Do I even really remember? Where did I succeed? Where did I fail? And why?
The fact is that I (and probably you too) make very little time for quiet reflection and thinking. In fact, we seem to purposefully design the activities of our lives so we don’t have to sit there in silence with “nothing to do.” So for this week’s post, I’m going to lay out some questions and challenge you and I to take some time to just think, not for the purposes of navel-gazing or to reach some higher plane of consciousness, but to evaluate our lives that we might pray Psalm 139,”Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Sometimes I think we want to have these reflection times but just don’t really know where to start, so I hope these questions are a helpful guide. Let me know if you think of any others! I myself haven’t sat down to process last year yet so I plan to take some time and go through these questions this week. It might also be helpful to do this with a spouse or friend who knows you well, since we tend to have blind spots. And throughout it all, let’s remember to pray. Let’s ask for the eyes to see ourselves clearly, for help to seek out any unconfessed failures and sin. Let’s pray over our activities and relationships. And let’s pray that above all, Christ would be our only true treasure, the only one for whom we live as we walk through whatever He has for us in 2017.
-Let’s start with some basic questions to get our brains working and remembering. So for each of the categories below, evaluate the following:
What were the highs? What were the lows? Where did I see growth in this area? Where did I fail in this area?
- Close relationships (family and close friends)
- Hobbies/”Free” time (including church involvement, leisure time, social media, etc.)
- The mundane (chores, your commute, health, staying organized, finances, etc.)
- Relationship with God (This really shouldn’t be too separate a category from the above ones, as He should be in and influencing all those areas.)
-As of this moment, what are the things that are most important to me? In other words, what would I say are my top priorities?
-How did the ways I spent my time, money, and energy in 2016 reflect my actual priorities and what I am truly after? (This question is important. Try to drill down to the nitty gritty – for example, I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog over the past six months. It’s been a priority and I’ve done it for some good reasons. But am I also doing it just to get approval from others and has it come at a cost to other areas of my life that need more attention? Hmmm. Do some tough introspection.)
-What were the biggest helps and hindrances in maintaining my priorities?
-Did I see a general trend of “better” on the whole of this past year when it came to knowing and treasuring God and His Word, loving and serving the Body of Christ, and walking in obedience to Him – all by His grace and strength? If not, why?
-After looking over the past year, what are some things I want to be doing? What are some things I need to be doing?