“If you’re searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.” – Unknown
Here we are again at the tail end of another year and like you, I find myself reflecting on my accomplishments, or lack there of in some cases. What did I get done, what did I fall short on and what will I carry into this coming year? Does it even matter what I do? Who really cares if my set goals were met or not? At times these questions and ones like them attempt to plague our mind. And usually the perfect time is at the end of the year. After all, in the beginning (January), we’re typically full of excitement, energy and anticipation for what lies ahead. We set our goals, like losing weight, saving more money, quitting smoking, eating better, traveling, going back to school or starting a business just to name a few of the common ones. But when December finally rolls around again and we have little to show for, in the area of achievement what do we do?
We have a few options to choose from, like:
- Make excuses – this includes blaming others, circumstances, etc.
- Identify and take responsibility for what did or did not occur like you planned.
- Assess, evaluate and revisit the initial goal and learn how you should approach it differently, if at all in this season.
Each of these options will require some energy from us, but all of them will not lead us to the promise land. The question really is not about the goal then, but more so about the goal maker. Yes, you (and me)! Every year as we come closer to a new year, something inside tells us to do better, strive higher and do more than what we did the year prior. And although I have no disagreement with this belief or sentiment, what I do take issue with is the why. What is really motivating us then? Is it our holistic fundamental beliefs or something more? Years ago, it would have been like second nature for me to say it was my beliefs, whether based on my Christian views or family values, and although they both play a critical part on how I view the world and move through it, I also discovered areas that were broken or misaligned with these truths as well. And no, this is not when I say that I have renounced my Christian faith or family values, but how I connected to them is another thing.
There is a scripture in Mark 7:13 KJV – that states we will cause the Word of God to become ineffective by our own traditions. This is true of good and not so good traditions. It can equally be true within our family structures and non-religious beliefs, where we basically go through life doing things simply because the idea or concept has been passed down from another generation. So what is right and how do we come to the understanding that we’re falling into this trap?
Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question, because we don’t know what we don’t know, and usually once we find out we have been journeying down a path that leads to nowhere, there is damage to repair. This has been my story, and although I endured much duress because of it, what I take away has been life changing and incredibly valuable for what still lies before me. So there is no need to discard my Christian faith or family values, but what I have learned is to know what I know for myself, period. And until I do, I will be still. I recognize that although my great-grandparents were wise, some of their ideas may not necessarily be right or good for me. I equally cannot live or overcome in my Christian walk solely off the faith of my pastor. As much as I want to believe a thing, I first must allow the God of the universe to reveal that thing to me. Otherwise I will press ahead without the substance, tools and faith essential to sustain me when things get inevitably difficult.
I have regrettably and successfully found myself in both of these circumstances during the course of my life. I have listened to well-intentioned people without forethought and failed, and other times I listened to other well-intentioned individuals and allowed their advice to fall to the ground, thankfully so. What can make this challenging is these people tend NOT to be our enemies. They naturally care for us and want what’s best. What I had to discover is I equally (most likely more so than anyone else) wanted what was best for me as well.
So this arduously learned revelation of truth was to simply start with myself. No matter who is attempting to give me advice, share a noble idea, or even interpreting a Biblical scripture, I need to assess, evaluate and pray to God myself before I make a move. After all, it is you and I who has to leave with the final outcome. If it ends up being a mess, so be it. At least I had the opportunity to learn something new, versus blame someone else for something they had no right being a part of.
As I reflect on the last few days of 2015, I approach the new year with confidence, knowing that the goals I am making are based on my truth, intertwined with my faith, mixed with good judgment from myself and those I chose to have some influence over my decisions. So whether I decide in 2016 that I will run a marathon, start a business, or become a vegetarian, I release all pressure from outside forces. I will resolve to inhabit my quiet place, aka my prayer closet, and set the goals that need to be set and trust that I will be stretched enough, challenged enough and forced to grow more because the ideas resonate with where God is taking me in my life. Just me.