We are just days away from 2017. This new year might be one of my best years ever! How about you? I do remember a few years ago when in December, I felt stuck. I needed to make progress in my life but felt immovable. I felt like my intentions were good but I really had nothing in place that developed beyond my thoughts. Consequently, I had no reason to believe the new year ahead would be any different than the current year.
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.” They are stuck.
“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 and starting projects that need to be completed, but . . . .”
“I know I need to make progress in my walk with God this year, 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 I should make this right with my friend, 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 stop short of our intentions, 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. Instead, we are focused on others or on situations beyond our control. Maybe we have allowed “but” to excuse our behavior. The following are 4 ways to move ahead into 2017 instead of remaining stuck.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)