Some people move ahead. They get better. Meanwhile others remain the same or even digress. Many people end the year with regrets, excuses, disappointments, and “buts.”
“I should be more attentive to God in prayer and Scripture reading but . . . .”
“I need to deal with a particular sin that keeps reappearing in my life but . . . .”
“I need to spend more time with my wife. I know I haven’t invested much energy into our marriage but . . . .”
“I have a habit of making commitments, starting projects and not following through but . . . .”
“I can be pretty harsh and overbearing at home. I know this is wrong but . . . .”
“My job takes so much energy and time. I feel exhausted much of the time. I need to nourish my inner world but . . . .”
“I’m losing the emotional connection with my children. I know the answer is not to buy them more things to compensate for this but . . . .”
“I know the kind of friendship I have with this man really isn’t right but . . . .”
Think about these statements. Each one describes the reality of a person’s life. However, the description of this reality is then derailed by the word “but.” When you and I do this, we are sabotaging our own lives. Instead of thanking God for the insight and awareness into the reality of our lives, we discount the first statement with “but.”
Maybe some of us do not grow, develop, or mature because we rarely address the reality of our lives. Maybe we have allowed “but” to excuse our behavior. The following are 4 ways to move ahead into this New Year instead of remaining stuck.
1. Seek the truth regarding your life without punctuating this reality with an excuse. Look in the mirror and simply describe what you see as you reflect on your life. At this moment, the last month of the year, what does a truthful snapshot of your life look like?
2. Thank God for his love for you in spite of the areas of your life that really need attention. Keep his love and power before you. This will enable you to acknowledge the reality of your blemished life instead of sweeping it away.
3. Pray to God for wisdom to know how to address these areas in your life. Know that you probably did not get this way overnight and, by the grace of God, it will take time to press through some of these issues.
4. Look for a step to take immediately. The time to address the condition of your life is now. Know that your procrastination will only complicate matters, not solve them. You are making progress by taking a single step.
(I recently read a portion of the book Get Off Your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself by Sean Stephenson. This book was useful in helping me think through this post.)