I have always enjoyed beginning a new year. For a number of years, this has been a special time in which I have regrouped and thought about my life, my direction, my future, etc. New Year’s is a time during which I reflect upon my walk with God, the condition of my heart, and my habits, which may or may not reinforce what I say is important to me. This is also a time during which I reflect on my use of time. How have I been using my time during the previous year?
There are several reasons why I do this. I find it far too easy to continue patterns, habits, etc. that are not all that useful and may even work against my values. Do you relate to this? You may be a mother or father. You may be married or single. You may be a minister, schoolteacher, or physician. Regardless of what you do (in terms of vocation) or your age, there is something very useful about thinking through the previous year as you begin the new year. After all, without reflection it is easy to continue patterns and habits that are ineffective at best and may contribute to much frustration.
I find it useful to think about the center of my life: my faith in Jesus Christ, the son of God, and my relationship with him. I want to start with the center and then look at some of the particular components of my life. For instance, flowing out of that center is a view of relationships which reflects that center (i.e., love God, love your neighbor). I ask questions that invite reflection on various aspects of my life. For example:
- Are there significant people in my life with whom I am in conflict?
- How is my relationship with my spouse? Is my spouse being encouraged and built up as a result of her relationship with me?
- How will my children speak of our relationship when they are adults? How will they remember life with me as their dad or mom? Was I nurturing and encouraging? Or, will they remember me as a difficult person to be in relationship with?
There are other questions that could be posed. (I suspect that in our more honest moments, we know exactly the questions that need our attention.)
At some point during this process, I want to think about this year, 2008. What is it that I wish to become as I look to the new year? What is it that God desires for me to become? If I continue to do what I am doing now, will the result be any different?
If I wish to improve in a certain area or if I wish to address a neglected area of my life, what will need to happen? What will need to happen tomorrow? In other words, if I begin with the end in mind (Stephen Covey), what needs to happen today?
Perhaps this series will be useful to you. Most of all, I hope that in some way it will spur your thinking and maybe even prod you to some sort of action as you begin the new year.