(NOTE PICTURES ARE INTENDED TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO REFLECT IN PEACE :))
I always find it interesting how some people (and cultures) make a major deal about starting the new year off 'right' with all kinds of focus on resolutions, re-setting priorities, 'making a plan', etc. Don`t get me wrong, I think these are all generally good and important things to do, but my question is why do we wait a whole stickin' year to look at our lives and re-evaluate?
Why do we not do this more often? I mean, I think most people do this on a smaller level every day and in many cases ever hour or even more often. As we wake up, it is pretty common in western cultures to have a plan for the day (particularly a week day). In your job, I imagine you have a list of priorities in your tasks, and if asked, most people can list off their personal priorities such as family, health, faith, personal hobby, etc. in whatever order comes to mind when asked, weather it seem rehearsed or not.
But what if we actually created space for ourselves to think on a deeper level about not only our general priorities (which are often set and then not re-evaluate until something screams for our attention) but if our lives reflect what we say, or what we want them to show as our priories? I am of course coming at this from a very western minded perspective, where we count time as one of our most valuable resources and efficiency, planning, and other similar things have high value. It is often assumed that the same is true all over the world, but in reality it is not 'valued' / looked at in the same way as us efficiency focused cultures.
But anyway, enough of my qualifying my own cultural perspective, the point - my point and hope for myself is to do a better job of evaluating and making small adjustments all the time. This is not my plan for 2017, this is my plan for my life, for me, for my character growth, care for those around me, and to attain the larger goals of my life.
As someone once told me (or reminded me multiple times every time we spoke for several years - thanks dad) ' it is good to have margins' in life. Me. and you who I imagine are reading this, do not normally plan 'margins' into our lives. Sure, some of you are always punctual and you are good about planning enough in advance for the traffic to be somewhere on time (this is not me). But what about time 'away' just for the sake of it. To be with family, be outdoors, be with God? How often does this REALLY happen? Even for me, when I take a 'vacation' as a single person and hope to spend some time in solitude, one would think that all my times are full of meaningful reflection, right? HA! wrong.
To step away from the swirling world, stress, physical, mental, emotional state of living in a broken world takes intentionality and motivation. One or the other of which I am often lacking.
I am, and I imagine you might be as well, often full of good intentions - to take time for myself or to give of myself to others in hopes of making a positive difference. But really, is that what we were created for? Oh, sure, yes, on some level yes. But really, for me, if my heart is not right with the Lord, I have no hope of helping others. If I am drowning, how can I throw my life-vest to someone else. Only when I am swimming strongly, healthy, alert, with keen eye -sight can I really see who around me is drowning and how to give help that will actually make a difference.
This is the kind of person I want to be. I want to be solid. This does not mean perfect (though of course that would be great too.) No, I want to be able to throw out all the help lines needed to people drowning around me. There of course is no chance of me doing this as me, Jessica, amazing life-guard. No, no, I have tried that and I don't like the results (neither did others I tried to 'save').
No, it is only when I am solidly rooted in Christ and who I am in Him and what he has done for me, can I go to battle for someone else. Even in times of self-growth, I find I need to pull back from going to battle for others and deal with my own issues.
I don`t mean that we can`t do anything for other people until we are perfect (thank goodness this is not true), and of course God can use us when we are even 'pathetic' to minister to another. I simply mean that God is God and we are not. If we think we have to be giving giving and going going, without ever sitting sitting, I am thinking thinking it will not go as well as we might have thought. This blog comes out of a reflection on my own past 6 months.
As many of you already know (because I have made little effort at hiding it) I have really struggled over the past few months with my own outlook and attitude in my current environment. I kept on trying to reach out and help others, I wanted to make a difference, but I was not dealing with much of the issue which has been in my own heart. I knew it needed the work, but still struggled to focus on that internal problem instead of the problems I saw external to myself.
I dont mean there are only problems with me that I have control over or need to be improved, I simply mean that the external struggle was kinda set against me when I wasn`t able to get my own self in order. And of course, there in lies the struggle, because it is never me who can get my own self 'in order'. It is only when I am the right place with the Lord that things are ordered and I can stand and strike from a place of authority and strength.
I will spare you the long sob story, but I will simply say that even though all this time I knew it was my own heart I was struggling with (and am working for some resolution) I have only recently realized that that is ok. That it is ok to step back from trying to be the super-Christ - follower I like to think I can and should be able to be and simply be a Child of God and ask questions for myself and hear what He has for me.
Ok, ok, I suppose I have made my point....or perhaps not made any point at all. But let me leave it with the encouragement of new beginnings, a battle already won, and chance for improvement at each conversation with those around us. And with the challenge of finding balance between and within life's seasons and with serving, while being able to receive from the greatest servant who ever lived.
Happy New Year/month/week/day/hour/moment!
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.