Here we are, new year, new roadmap. Many of us end a year and start a new one thinking about where we are in relation to where we hoped we would be.
I’ve always appreciated the newness a new year brings. It brings inspiration and a blank sheet without anything truly changing, save our mindsets. Most of us feel the subtle change, yet there are others of us facing the disappointment and stark reality of what the old year did not bring.
I’ve always enjoyed New Year’s, but only as I got older did it really begin to mean something to me. Over the past few years, I’ve decided to set goals with the new year. I have never been one for resolutions and there is something decidedly different about goals for the year, at least in my eyes. My husband & I, since we’ve been married, have made a practice of going somewhere different every New Year’s Eve and really setting apart that time to recognize where we’ve come from and where we’re going. I’ve gone along that way for a few years now, and last year I really set some big goals for myself. I knew where I wanted to be and I poured myself into making those things a reality.
However, in about September, it hit me that some of those things weren’t going to happen. I really struggled with that- these were big, life-changing goals that I had worked toward with all my heart but I couldn’t “make” happen. These things I so deeply desired for my life were out of my hands, yet I didn’t want to let them go from the timeframe I wanted them in. All around me, I could see others experiencing life change, but my life was staying the same.
Sitting at a dinner table with friends the following month, a dear friend gave me some golden advice. She told me that those things will happen- I just need to stop focusing on them and trust God to handle them. I went home and really mulled over her words. It wasn’t the first time I had heard them. My husband is such a faithful encourager to me, always reminding me of God’s goodness and faithfulness in regards to these matters of the heart. I think the thing that changed was that I was ready to take them to heart.
So, as I started this year, I was reminded of all that is the same and all that has not happened over the past year. I recognized for the first time how people can be filled with disappointment and disregard for New Year’s. If you keep constantly being disappointed, it is quite natural to learn to protect yourself from that disappointment by simply not taking a part in what caused it.
As I’ve processed all of this, I felt compelled to write it out. I might not be where I wanted to be, but I’m still where I am for a reason. I look around and am filled with compassion for bitter, hurting, and disappointed people whose lives are not what they wanted them to be as well as the realization that I have to make choices to not end up with that same outlook on life. So, this year, I wrote down my goals for the year. I decided to be at peace with what did not happen last year and to look forward to the possibilities of this year. “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares in its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10) I took time to recognize and accept the sorrow of what did not happen, yet I also made the deliberate choice to not allow that the power over me to cause me to not take the time to hope for what this year could be.
Life doesn’t always turn out how we hope it will. In fact, even in the good things, it is rarely what we ever imagined for ourselves. This past weekend, my husband & I hosted some friends and watched all six Middle Earth movies (and extended editions at that), in a 20-plus-hour marathon, complete with the seven meals eaten by Hobbits. A year ago, a friend and my husband had hatched the plan, and we actually did it. It was completely ridiculous and silly, but it was something that really struck me deeply as a way of just enjoying the season we are in and making the choice to recognize the blessings of where we are, even if it isn’t where I would have chosen to be.
This year, I ask you- will you choose to enjoy the blessings of the season you are in, even if it isn’t where you would choose to be? Maybe you aren’t in the job you hoped you would be in, or the house, or the relationship, or with the family you hoped you would have. Yet, not having that job allows you some sort of freedom- perhaps from responsibility, perhaps in your time- you wouldn’t otherwise have. Not having a house, or a spouse, or a baby all present their own freedoms.
I am confident God gives us the desires of our hearts for a reason. I am not turning my back on those desires, and I am not implying that you should, either. Yet, in the waiting time, in that time when you don’t know why you aren’t at that next step, will you honor God by enjoying the blessings of that season He has placed you in?
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment…” 1 Timothy 6:6 ESV
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…” Philippians 4:11 NKJV