Every year, thousands, if not millions, of people make New Year’s resolutions. For most – including me on more than one occasion – the resolutions are abandoned by mid-February. In fact, one study suggests that only 12% of people stick to their resolutions.
I wonder if we don’t stick to many of our resolutions because we make them without an appropriate amount of reflection…I know I don’t give a lot of thought throughout the year to resolutions; but then somewhere after the full feeling of holiday eating begins to fade and someone asks me what my resolutions are, I think quickly about them and make a declaration that I am going to give something up or start doing something or make some monumental change.
So today, on the first day of a new year, I resolve to reflect. In fact, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection over the last several days.
My journey over this past year has been a formidable one – not frightening, although there have been moments of fear or uncertainty – a journey that has inspired respect through being impressively powerful or intense.
Last summer (2011), I began praying for God to “wreck me.” I know, a ridiculous request in hindsight; but I’m nothing if not a risk taker! I was tired of living on the sidelines and playing it safe. I was working in a job that paid the bills, but provided absolutely no satisfaction. If anything, it was a major source of discontent. On any given day I felt like I was living in stark contrast to what I wanted and what God wanted for and from me.
Well, God listened to my prayer and He delivered. Beginning in the fall, I began feeling more conflicted about my job – the place I was investing the majority of my time. But I wasn’t ready to move on because the job offered better-than-average pay and exceptional health benefits. God is amazing. I truly believe His timing for me to leave my job was rapidly approaching and He could see that I was not going to accede. So He turned up the heat, working through people and situations to lead me to the point where if I did not make the decision to leave, my physical and mental health would be irreparably affected. Some of us need more prodding than others!
At first I took a leave of absence at the urging of my boss, which was the best thing I could have done. Putting a little time and distance between me and the job helped me gain some perspective. It’s fascinating to me how when we are in the micro we can lose sight of the macro. Having the time to reflect helped me to see that God’s plan for my life is far better than my own. And it helped me to ask myself if I wanted to continue living out my plan or if I wanted to begin a journey to discover God’s plan for me.
After serious reflection, I tendered my resignation. I like to think of myself as courageous and I know one of my spiritual gifts is faith, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments of doubt and fear and questioning my sanity.
Ahhhhh, freedom……oh, but wait……it was short-lived. It was short-lived because I let my faith waiver and didn’t trust God’s provision. So I immediately accepted a consulting job IN THE SAME FIELD from which I had resigned AND I accepted a part-time job despite my apprehension. Oooooyyyyyy!
So I tortured myself for a while longer and finally stopped to listen to God’s call for me to “WAIT. JUST WAIT!” The urging from God was a quiet whisper in my soul – not an audible voice – but it may as well have been a shout for how much it has reverberated within me.
You see, I am not a waiter by nature. I am impatient – I walk fast, I talk fast, I drive fast, I do nothing slowly. God surely does have a sense of humor! So since September I have been waiting. Notice I didn’t say, “I have been waiting well.” Some days I have to remind myself 1,000 times to “WAIT. JUST WAIT!” But I am learning to slow down and listen and wait.
I have begun to explore, re-explore or further explore things that bring me joy. Photography, cooking, teaching, entertaining, etc. And I have begun to look at the misconceptions I have about myself. I have begun asking different questions and making different demands of myself and speaking to myself in a whole new way.
It has not been an easy journey. But it has MOST ASSUREDLY been a rewarding one. I have felt God with me most of the way; although I KNOW He has been there with me the ENTIRE way. I can easily slip back into my old habits – that’s the thing about habits….they become such ingrained ways of behaving that we don’t even realize we are doing them – but when I do I find I catch myself more often and change my direction.
I did not make this journey alone. I am so monumentally blessed to have amazing people who have walked with me and encouraged me along the way. Some may not even realize the impact their support has had on me – some days a kind word and the ability to see myself through someone else’s eyes were the only things that kept me going.
So out with 2012 and in with 2013! I do not wish to rid myself of everything 2012 – I learned so much that I hope to carry with me forever. But I am ready (if God is ready) to let go of the past and move on to the future.
I do not know where God will call me next. I am anxious to find out; but not so anxious that I miss this opportunity to “WAIT. JUST WAIT!” So for now I resolve simply to reflect!