I’m not sure if its normal for people to have a favourite day of the year. But I do! My favourite day of the year is New Years Eve. Yes, that’s right: TODAY! I presume most people would say their favourite day is Christmas Day….or even New Years Day…….but not me! There is something about the ANTICIPATION of a new year that just gets me excited. It’s a chance to say goodbye to the past, whether good or bad and look forward to new potential.
Every year, for the last 15 years I have sat down on New Years Eve Day and reflected on the year that has gone. I then write goals for the New Year with my preferred future in mind. It is a cathartic process, and I encourage you to try it. The feeling is similar to closing a book you’ve just read: satisfaction and closure.
It’s a strange one for me this year….as you may know, I am taking a break from working and ministry in 2019. Maybe not all of it, but a decent proportion of it. Besides writing this blog, I don’t really know a lot about what my life will look like. I’ve desperately come up with some ideas of things I would like to do around the house, but really I have no idea what the year is going to hold. Whether I will get another job at some point, do more study, teach…..all of these things are possibilities that unfortunately I can’t plan for. The things that are leftover, are important but they’re either not inspiring or easily measured. Things like cleaning routines, spending quality time with family, spending lots of time with God….
Never have I been more aware of my tendency to put my hope in the future, than today. What do you do when there is nothing ahead of you? When everything is grey? When there are so many possibilities, but no solid anchor points from where you can start planning?
See I think the real problem is that in the past, my goals have centred so much around what I am DOING. And that’s essentially what goals are. They are aspirational commitments. They are statements about what we are going to do, to be at a place, where we like what we are doing. So herein lies my conundrum: What if you aren’t really ‘doing’ anything? What if there are no accolades to aspire to? What are my goals going to be?
This whole line of thinking really demonstrates for me how our identities are so wrapped up in what we do, and what we can accomplish. When we introduce someone we list off their credentials. On a bio, generally speaking, a person is giving us their ‘right to write’. When I look at a conference lineup, I say “who’s that guy? And why are they getting a chance to speak?”
And I’m no different. I want that list of credentials, things that give me credibility.
Somewhere in me, I believe that the accomplishments will give me permission to walk into places and conversations that I want to be in…..and to a degree its true. But I know deep down inside its because I don’t have the faith to believe that God alone can take me into those places and conversations that I want to be in….
About 18 months ago, I found myself very frustrated. Out of zeal, I kept saying “I just want to DO something for God”….”I just want to DO something for God”…It seems to interesting to me now that Gods answer to that prayer has been to lead me to a time of REST and Intimacy with Him. The best thing I can do in 2019, is to go deeper in Him. To know Him more. Rest might not be your calling for 2019, but for some of us, God would definitely prefer that we did less. He would probably prefer that we strip away, rather than carry more. That we didn’t reduce our self-worth and faith journey to a neverending task list. That we would:
- “Come…..”(Matthew 11:28)
- “Knock….” (Matthew 7:7)
- “Seek…..”(Jeremiah 29:13)
So today I will be taking a very different line of questioning during my goal setting process. I’m not going to be focusing on what I am going to DO in 2019. Instead, I will be prayerfully asking questions like:
Who am I?
Who does God want me to be?
What masks do I need to take off this year?
What aspect of His character do I want to experience more of this year?
I look forward to reporting this journey of discovery in future blogs….but until then, I’m going to go enjoy my favourite day of the year.