As we start the new year, social media is a buzz with all kinds of things to help us reach our new year’s goals and resolutions. There are websites, apps, and all kinds of other things to feed our addiction to improve our lives or ourselves – even if it is only temporary.
2015 brought with it a lot of changes that have made me a better person. God has worked through every situation, whether it seemed (to me) to be good, bad or somewhere in between. It’s easy to look backward and see how things have changed us or made us think differently, which SHOULD help us as we look forward. We don’t have to make sense of everything as it is happening, but rather we can be free to live in the moment and experience life as it happens. Is it good to plan? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we should become so concerned with planning and trying to figure things out that we miss everything that is working together for our good.
When we are experiencing difficult times, it is natural for us to expend all kinds of energy trying to make things better or easier, when we would be better off simply breathing through it and taking from it whatever lessons we need. I’ve had things happen this year that have disappointed me beyond explanation or what I can truly express. There have been things in every area of my life that have been painful and disappointing, but there have also been things in every area that have been beautiful and brought me great joy. It all depends on where you choose to look and HOW you look at it. When we look at our difficulties as an opportunity to reveal the truth about a person, situation, job, church or anything else, we become open to growing and changing through those difficulties. Thankfully we get to make these choices daily on whether or not we will grow or shrink. We don’t have to wait for the “New Year.”
Inevitably, most of us take a time to reflect on the passing year and on what we hope for the next one. We consider the mistakes we made or things we could have handled better. We think of the opportunities we let slip and times we should have stood up when we didn’t. Then we start making plans for how we will do things differently in the new year. No matter the specific change we want to make, we determine to become a better version of ourselves. I’m not saying it isn’t a noble endeavor to begin but somewhere along the way, we start to slip and end up back in the same old rut, year after year. I must admit, it’s just easier to go along with the status quo than to get out of our comfort zone and develop a new habit…or a new me. Every year I have great intentions for the new year, but often fall short because life happens, or at least that’s what I tend to say.
It’s time for me – for all of us – to expect more. It’s time that we start following that still small voice within, no matter where it leads. I am certain there will be changes in my spiritual walk because without it, no other changes will be accomplished. For me, everything starts with where I feel God is calling me to be, and yet knowing it is only half the battle. This year I need to not only listen, but then draw fully on His strength to carry out the things I know I need to do. That’s the piece I sometimes miss because I take His will and then start making MY plans for how it will be accomplished. This year I need to KEEP listening past the “what” and put faith in direction for the “how.” Waiting and being patient do not come naturally when we are feeling desperate for change, but forcing the timing of that change can backfire on us and stall our progress.
Change is going to happen for all of us this year. It may be small change or it could be larger than we can even imagine right now. For me, there are already changes in process that I did not see coming and, quite frankly, are not happy about. It happens sometimes – circumstances take a turn and we are faced with decisions we’d rather not have to think about, especially when the only options we can see are ones that make us figuratively (or literally) sick to our stomachs. It is like a rollercoaster that just keeps going until it comes full circle back to the station. We ride it up and down, through the loops and around the corners, without really any control until we end up back where we got on. The interesting thing is that once we get off, it’s up to us whether or not to get back on it again. We can keep doing the same futile thing over and over, speeding down the tracks but getting nowhere, or we can walk away down a new path. Sometimes neither FEELS good to us in the moment, but one will most certainly lead us nowhere but around the same track. It’s time to get off the ride and get on with our lives.
So as we all look at where we are in light of where we have been, let us stop promising to change and start resolving to listen to that still, small voice within. If we will pay attention to where God is leading us instead of where we are planning to go, rest assured the path will be revealed. Yes, as the song says, “change is a-comin’, but everything’s gonna be alright.”