I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but I am always ready to start fresh. Maybe it’s because the first 20 years of my life were spent starting a new semester. Or maybe seeing all the calendars makes me giddy. Or maybe it’s because the end of the year is such a big celebration time that January seems like a natural calming, refreshing month. Call it a natural ebb and flow. I don’t really have the answer, but I do know that at the end of every year I start dreaming about the next year.
Sometimes I dream about what is next. What will I do with my life this year? Where will I go? But mostly, these days, I dream about who I might be in the new year.
I don’t know about you, but I see more of myself now that I’m in my thirties. On the one hand, I am more comfortable with myself — my likes (coffee), dislikes (reality TV), beliefs (I am more comfortable with not knowing an answer). Yet, on the other hand, I see more of the things I don’t like in myself — jealousy, envy, pride, negativity, critical spirit, discontentment. I think that is why I look forward to each January. I know that God’s mercies are new each and every day for me, but there is something about starting a new year. It’s like you’ve been handed a do-over. There is something refreshing about committing to what I want God to do in me this year. Dreaming about how He might refine some of the rough parts of me.
In 2014, my journal reflects the dreams of who I would be:
celebrate the greatness of others
push others to succeed
don’t be jealous
stop the comparison game
Quite a hefty list you might say. I am serious that I am much more self-aware in my thirties. I looked down the road and pictured myself as an old woman. In my mind, there is nothing more off putting an a mean old woman.
I think a lot of my 2014 dream list was realizing that if I continued to walk at the rate I was going, I would be that mean old woman. I wanted to choose kindness more with my husband and kids. I wanted to look at how others were succeeding and applaud them without jealousy. I truly wanted to be okay to not be noticed or need to be in the limelight. I wanted to be okay with others being in the limelight that I often desired. I wanted to be less critical of everything (I can walk in a grocery store and desire to tell them how they could be more efficient). I wanted to compare myself less in terms of appearance, parenting, and work. And lastly, I wanted to be joyful — to trade the mourning for the oil of gladness and have a mantle of praise over the fireplace of my heart.
Our family started off the new year with a highly anticipated move to a new city and state. God birthed in us a new story and with that story, He crafted words and wove sentences together to make Him known. He whittled away some of the rough parts of me. This list was etched into my mind as I walked this year.
Was I successful? Somewhat.
Was I perfect in keeping this list? Definitely not.
However, perfection wasn’t the goal. Refinement was. Nester said:
“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”
I’ll pause and let you read that line again. The work that God wants to do in you as a woman, wife, mom, friend, daughter, employee, co-worker — it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. A life that seeks to make Him known reflects that beauty of the Creator. You, my friend, don’t have to be perfect in order to have a beautiful life and reflection.
So here we are. 2015. I will obviously continue to pursue the dreams of 2014, but what will I add to my dream list? Who do I want to be at the end of 2015?
My prayer and desire lead me to 2 Timothy 2:24-25:
And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.
I love this list that Paul writes to Timothy: not quarrelsome, be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, correcting others in gentleness. All of those things seem to point to one thing — unity. So in 2015, I want to be a promoter of unity. I want to look at my relationships through this lens.
Coming from a past of working for the church and working with organizations that help the church, it’s easy to be critical. Having a seminary degree makes it easy to think that we know best. Yet at the end of the day, we sometimes find ourselves wrapped up in quarrels that are somewhat meaningless. Yes, I want to be a part of things and do things with excellence, yet the desire of my words should be one of unity. When I’m raising my kids, do I promote unity in our house? Do I take great offense when I am wronged? Do I correct my kids with gentleness? Do I buy into meaningless quarrels at the school over new administration? Am I able to be corrected without anger? Am I a promoter of unity?
Again, we aren’t looking for perfection here. I will always be the first in line to admit that I am not perfect. I do not have it all together. I tend to fail more than I succeed yet it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
What about you? What are you dreaming for 2015?