The other day I looked over my list of 2016 intentions and goals that I keep in plain sight on my bureau mirror. It is a daily reminder of what I committed to do for the year with action steps. Very “business-like” but effective.
My kids and I have done this exercise for the past few years though last year, they bowed out for their own reasons. “It doesn’t work”, “It’s in my head” or simply “I don’t feel like it”. Ahh – the apathy of our millennials and younger generation strikes again.
I can’t blame them really. Who wouldn’t want their dreams and desires to magically happen just by thinking about them? It’s like that in the movies – or at least that’s what it appears to be. I struggle sometimes with rags to riches stories because many times they paint a picture of immediacy. The main character was down on his luck one day and the next – on top of the world. Their “in-betweens” are often overlooked or pushed aside since they’re likely not too much fun to watch.
I will look back on 2016 as a year of “in-betweens”. I was in between jobs, in between a weight loss goal, in between financial stability and a host of others. I was forced to go through each of these trials with no magic pill. The payoffs varied but as I sit here at the end of the year, I will look upon this time as one of tremendous spiritual growth and clarity about who I am, my passions and my ultimate purpose.
Over the past several weeks I have participated in a Bible study on the prophets. People like Daniel, Isaiah, Hosea and others who I knew of only tangentially became real to me. At first I thought this would be simply a history lesson but I was wrong. Sure I got a better understanding of this world thousands of years ago but more importantly, I got insights into the people, their trials and how they handled their own spiritual journeys.
Many people shy away from reading the Bible because it can be hard to read or they feel it doesn’t apply to our modern times. I have to say I agreed with them for quite some time. But I have found that while there are difficult passages, if you read the Bible for the story and the ‘big picture’, it’s not any harder than tackling a classic like War and Peace. I often wonder if in a few thousand years, people will say the same thing as they come across the phrases that dot Twitter feeds and Snapchats in the books being written today.
And the stories? They are incredible. They are heart-warming. They are life-changing. Well, they are for me anyway. Now before you click off this post thinking I’m trying to convince you to read the Bible, hear me out.
These long ago people were no different than you and I. They woke up each day, went to their jobs, raised their families, paid taxes, went to church and did what they had to do to survive. They dealt with sick kids, elderly parents, wars, famine and bullies. Some struggled with their faith and needed prophets to help them see the light. Some denied their faith and… uh…experienced the consequences of that. Can you say “Maybe I should’ve gotten on the ark”?
We are no different than these folks of long ago. If you look at the world today, we are experiencing the same things. In many cases, sadly, much more given the complexity of our world. It’s tempting to want to crawl under the covers and hide or like my kids, wish for a magic pill to make it all go away.
I’ve learned this year that I’m the magic pill. I’m the one who can turn a bunch of words on a piece of paper into my reality. I’m the one who can move the numbers on the scale in a more positive direction. I’m the one who can choose to smile at the person on the street or hold my tongue with the customer service rep who’s not giving me what I want when I want it. I’m the one who can listen just one more time to my son’s incessant talk about last night’s game or my daughter’s latest beauty tip. Me. I’m the one.
And I’m the one who can choose to hold on to my faith when it seems like things are falling apart in front of my eyes. To trust that no matter what happens, I am guided by a God who loves me more than my little brain can comprehend. To believe that even though things are unclear and muddied that they are part of a larger picture and plan for my life that’s been written in the stars just for me.
As I close out 2016 and look ahead to the new year, I’m comforted and empowered by my faith and that no matter what happens, it’ll all be ok. In a few days, I’ll create a new list of intentions and goals. Some will be easier to achieve than others but I know that if they are meant to be, I will be given the strength and courage and ability to accomplish them.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jen’s Gem: May God richly bless you and your loved ones throughout the holiday season and beyond. May you discover that despite what you see in the news, there’s a God who loves you and will always take care of you. May that love transform you, as it has me, to be the very best you can be in 2017.