In these last few days of 2022, we’re encouraged to think about new goals for the coming year. Yesterday, I was having a conversation with our Associate Pastor and he mentioned that our goals for the new year should be based on the the 10 commandments. I thought for a minute and said, “Okay, I’ve got a good goal.” My resolution is not to kill anyone in 2023!
Whatever your goals are it might be good to think back before you think forward. Remembering and Reflecting is important, because they give us perspective and insight for the new year. Life doesn’t move forward if it’s made up of a string of disconnected goals.
The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:13-14, “13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
By forgetting, I don’t think he meant “never remembering.” Forgetting, rather means letting go of what is behind so we can strive toward what is ahead. If we don’t remember and reflect, two things will happen. 1) We won’t identify what should be dropped! If we never think about what we’ve been holding onto, we won’t know what to let go of. 2) We will pick it up again! If we don’t spend a few moments of time thinking about what we’ve been doing, our habits will kick in again and we’ll go through another year without much progress.
Sometimes doing an inventory is essential. When I’ve helped people through the process of getting their finances in order, I usually start by telling them to keep a record of every nickel they spend for at least 2 weeks. Doing this we are able to see what is working and what isn’t. When I made a major change in my diet years ago, I kept a record of everything I put in my mouth for 4 weeks. It was revelatory! To be honest, I probably need to do this again.
So let’s think about how to look back, so we can find some direction for moving forward. Let’s ask ourselves 3 questions.
What was good in 2022?
To get moving, we should always start with an accounting of our blessings. What happened in 2022, that you’d love to see happen again? What specific blessing did God give you? Start with the fact that you’re alive. And as long as you are, there’s potential! Let me ask you a few questions that will help you reflect.
- Did I have a good conversation with anyone?
- What one good thing happened on the job that I’d like to repeat?
- Did I get a little time away, in nature, on a trip (short or long)?
- Did I kids accomplish something you were proud of?
- Did my spouse, or friend stick by me, even if not perfectly?
- What good meal did I enjoy?
- Did I read a good book?
- Did I take a good walk?
- What other blessings do I remember?
Now reflect for a moment. What is it these things added to your life? How did they remind you of God’s goodness and love for you? Which would you love to see happen again this year?
What worked for me in 2022?
- What habit added life to me last year?
- What person added joy to me last year?
- What activity reminded me of God’s presence?
- What made me feel more connected to another person?
- What did I give (time, service, gifts) that brought me joy?
- What part of my job did I love?
- What leisure activity made me happy?
Now reflect for a moment. What themes flow through these? What do they have in common? What would you like to see happen again? Is there something in this list that you’d like to do a little more? What adjustments need to be made for that to happen?
What didn’t work for me in 2022?
- What habit got in the way of my sense of well-being?
- What pattern of communication added frustration to my relationships?
- What belongings were obstacles to an uncluttered life?
- What frustration challenged my faith in God’s goodness?
- What was on my calendar that required more than it produced?
- What values, beliefs, or priorities are keeping me from living in God’s presence?
Now reflect for a moment. What stands out as something you need to change? What do you need to learn in order to make a positive change? Who could help you understand this better and create a path forward? Imagine for a moment what it would look like to make this change?
As you remember and reflect, let me encourage you to make 3 resolutions in light of the above.
- Make an inward goal. What will help you grow emotionally, socially, spiritually, and intellectually?
- Make an outward goal. What will help me physically? God made us body and souls. Our physical health has an impact on our spiritual health and vice versa.
- Make a relational goal. Who has God given me to love and how can I do that better? We’ll never be happy until we’ve learned to love God AND love our neighbors, even if that neighbor lives in our house.
In case you’re wondering. I have answers for each of these questions. 2022 had many blessings, but it certainly wasn’t a perfect year. So, I’ll be doing this exercise right along with you. I hope we find joy and strength for the future, in the process of remembering and reflecting.