As one year ends and a new one approaches, I also find myself giving thought to what I want to do in the new year to hopefully secure the balance in the year to come will weigh heavier on the victories and successes side than the disappointments, failures and regrets.
I know I'm not alone, it's common to man. A new year offers new hope, new opportunity, and begs for a new plan.
I began last year 30 lbs lighter than I had the year before. This year after losing another 17 lbs in the first half, I find myself actually 5 lbs heavier (at least last I checked before the holiday) than I was a year ago. So I think I will file weight loss efforts on the side of disappointment and regret. I won't give it a complete failure mark though, because I know I did learn a lesson about how to get my weight down, and what it takes to feel better with regular activity and exercise in the first 6 months of the year. And I learned the importance of not slacking off.
I really hoped this would be the year I finally wrote my book. But, I didn't. But I don't think it qualifies as a failure, because in some ways, I feel like the Lord has been giving me a little more direction in that area. And although I do regret not being more diligent in my efforts, it's not a total loss. So I won't file that one under a failure, even if it isn't a success... yet.
Our financial situation isn't any better than it was a year ago. And in reality is probably a little worse. But in all honesty, I am guessing most people except a fortunate few would make that same assessment, the fact of the matter is, things are tough all over. So although I would definitely not consider that area of life to be either victorious or successful, I can't take on the failure all by myself, though I am sure there is a decent level of disappointment and regret to hold to.
So I have to wonder. What would I place on the side of success? Where has my victory come from this year? Surely I have to be able to file something under the "victory and success" side of the scale.
Truthfully, it doesn't take me long to know exactly what to file there. First off my marriage. I can honestly say with every passing year, I am more and more in love with my husband. Being married to Neal is my very best blessing. I love him more than chocolate, and I know whatever challenges we face, we face together as a team, and nowadays, a happy healthy marriage is harder to find than it used to be, and so I can without a doubt file that under success.
I look at my three rambunctious kids and think about all the days they drive me crazy and make me want to pull my hair out. Then I think about the fact that I have this amazing 16-year-old son who loves the Lord and has the heart to serve and care for kids, about how he chooses to live a clean in godly life despite the fact that he is surrounded by temptation and evil constantly, and I realize, he's not forcing me to pull most of those hairs out after all. Then I think about my 9-year-old son who does a poor job of speaking sarcasm and can get himself into trouble on occasion with his mouth, but the same mouth that occasionally misfires says the sweetest prayers of any person I have ever known. I think pf all the times we have been praying for someone and somehow through some supernatural discernment well beyond his knowledge or understanding, he will pray the exact perfect words for someone he may not even know. And I think about my daughter who while sitting around our advent table these last few weeks has taken the burden upon herself to pray for the salvation of the girls in her gymnastics class. I think about her song writing, as her heart just seems to burst forth in worship for her savior, and I think about the contagious joyful laughter she has that I know is a gift from God. My kids? I think they definitely get filed under successes, or at the very least, successes and victories in progress.
This past year, I have had the continued privilege to invest in Jake's friends through our bible study/ small group called Envision. Watching those boys come into my home and worship and share the Word together, honing their skills in teaching and encouraging them to seek the Lord above all else? Total success. And a privilege and joy greater than I can begin to describe.
This year I also had the awesome privilege to be involved in a couple of wonderful ladies' groups. I got involved with 11 other friends and we started a Bunco group. Ok, so maybe Bunco doesn't sound profoundly spiritual, but I think about the times when we stopped and prayed together and the hours on end we laughed together and encouraged one another, and I KNOW that bunco groups are a gift from God. So bunco? SUCCESS! And we also started a Facebook connected social group as well called the Grown Up Girls. It doesn't come across as the most super spiritual grouping, we have moves days, and girls' nights in, we've had lunches together and exercise walks in groups, nothing particularly profound, yet I know it has fed my spirit, and the spirit of many other women. It's brought ladies to church, and created new friendships, it has made our big church seem a little smaller when all of a sudden women are seeing women there that they met in a social aspect, and suddenly both feel a little more welcome, a little more at home, just a little bit more a part of thing. The Grown Up Girls? Definitely filed under successes.
Also under the success side of things I would file several friendships that grew to a deeper level. A woman who took time to mentor me, a woman who studied the word with me and a woman who intertwined her family with mine more intimately, success, success, success.
So as I step back and really look things over, I see something GLARING from the success side of the scale. It's people. People are what matter. Relationships are what really count. What matters most is what I have done with the relationships in my life.
So often in life I feel like such a failure as a Christian. Too many days when I am short-tempered, or my mind wanders from where it should. I stumble, some days it seems, all day long.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) That's what Jesus said. And although I have no doubt there have been many, many times I have failed to reflect that love in the lives around me, I also know, I have at times managed to reflect it. Success!
I don't mean this in any kind of prideful proclamation. I know I fall short all the time, but I have hope, because if the successes in my life are related to my relationships, than I at least know I am on the right path. At least some of this Christianity deal is actually sinking in. I may trip on it often, but I am at least on the proper path. And thankfully, I know if I'm on the path, the Lord will get me to the destination.
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand."
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.
The fact is, I've kind of lost count of exactly how many years I've been on this path with the Lord. It's not quite 20, I think I've settled so far somewhere in between 18 and 19 years since I recommitted my heart and life to the Lord. I have far from walked a perfect path, but I have somehow managed to stay on it, and that is without a doubt my greatest success and victory in my life. And truth be told, it's the only victory that really matters. It permanently tips the scale of life for every year, because if I have Jesus, I have everything I need.
As I look forward to 2011 and try to evaluate what I want for the year to come, the answer is simple, I want more of Him. I want to seek Him and pursue Him, and continue to grow in Him. I want to fall more in love with Him and learn more about Him. I want to continue on this path where the reality is, there is always more of Him to be found. There is always more of Him to experience. And there is always more of Himself that He wants to reveal to me.
So as I look toward 2011, I know my hope for the year to come. It's not a goal or a resolution even, just a fulfilling of the call the Lord placed on my hart in the first place. I want to be obedient to His command for my life.
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The fact of the matter is, relationships are what matter most. First and foremost my relationship with the Lord, and secondly with the people He places in my life. If all cylinders are firing properly then the other relationships in my life will benefit from my relationship with Him. It's the way things are meant to work.
So my 2011 is looking pretty promising. Not because I have some diet in mind, or a new membership to a gym. It's not because I have the magic budget prepared that will finally get me out of debt or because I am going to finally write that book that will make me a million. None of those things are what are waiting for me in 2011 to make sure the scale tips toward victory and success in 2011. What gives me hope and promises me victory in the year to come is the Lord. Just as surely as He is with me and beside me now, He is waiting for me in the future. He standing outside of time has it all under control. I do not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future, and I know He's for me, and has good plans for me. He's going to love me, and I'm going to love Him back to the best of my ability, and together, we're going to love others together, and 2011 will be one heaven of a year, no matter what it may bring.
1 John 5:2-5
In Jesus' name, I pray