Endings and beginnings
The ending or beginning of a new calendar year, program year or church season provide opportunities to reflect on the past and to imagine what God is up to in our lives. In preparation for the season of Advent I usually take a short trip to the Grand Canyon a few days before Thanksgiving. I find that the grandeur of God’s creation opens me up to new insights and perspectives I don’t experience elsewhere.
While hiking at the Grand Canyon, I thought much about the choices I made in during the past year along with the consequences of those choices. Many choices I made this past year, like walking 5,000 steps daily and listening to the Bible while exercising were profound and life-giving. Many of the “thought” choices I made, such as focusing on lack rather than abundance or holding on to a grudge, were life-draining and diminished my joy, energy and purpose in life.
Like the water that flowed in and out of the Grand Canyon over an extended period of time to create its current state, I was reminded of how the choices we make each day can profoundly shape the present and future state of our lives.
What choices do you need to let go that are life-draining and a hindrance who you want to be or become? Listed below are some quotes from pastors regarding some of the choices they’d like to let go of.
- Regrets – “I don’t have a time machine to change previous circumstances so I need to learn from the past to build a better future.”
- Thoughts that weaken or diminish me – This includes anger, resentment, scapegoating, rationalizing, playing the martyr or victim, etc.
- Blame – “I tend to blame others so I don’t have to look in the mirror to see how I may have I contributed to the situation.”
- Comparison – “Sometimes I look at those around me as a barometer for where I should be. When I compare my life to others, I tend to forget what God has called me to be and do.”
The choices we make can be a help or a hindrance to reaching our preferred future. Here are 5 daily choices I’m seeking to embrace for 2014:
- Taking 10,000 steps a day – Thanks to my iPhone app, I’m continuously reminded of how much movement I’m getting throughout the day. I’m choosing to double the number of daily steps for 2014.
- Calling a friend or family member every day – I add it to my “to do” list and usually call around lunch time. Many pastors I work with regret not cultivating friendships outside of the parish. I realize that I’m guilty of the same thing.
- Listening to scripture (15-20 minutes) – In the course of the year, I listen to the entire Bible. It takes about 74 hours.
- Keeping a journal and monitoring what comes into and out of my life – I use the Day One iPad app and do a modified daily examen routine. It helps me become mindful of what I’m allowing into my life and what I’m holding onto.
- Affirming my kids – I say and/or text my two boys words of affirmation usually in the form of, “I love you . . . I’m proud of you . . . and My hopes for you are.” I don’t sense that they ever tire of hearing these words from me and it’s one of many ways I hope to bring out God’s best in them.
I welcome hearing from you what choices you’ll be letting go of or embracing for 2014.