by Christine Sine
I don’t need to tell you that 2019 is almost over. In fact in Australia and New Zealand it is almost upon us. We all love the fireworks at this time of the year. I know I can’t wait for the display over Sydney Harbour. But that is something I see only once a year. The rest of the year is serious business.
Like most of us this is the time of year when I like to look both back and forward as I do what I can to move my life in the right direction in the coming year.
I have already read through my spiritual audit, and reflected on past thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions as Spiritual Practice. I have even read through all my new year’s prayers as well as those contributed by others to Godspace. Yes I have been a very busy girl in the last couple of days! ow I find a couple of questions, interestingly from Advent in Narnia coming to the forefront of my mind:
What do I feel I ought to do in 2020 and What do I feel I want to do?
Interestingly these 2 questions have arisen at a time when I am struggling with similar questions as to what to write about on Godspace. “I ought to be writing about Holy Name Day, ” which is what New Year’s Day coincides with on the liturgical calendar. However I feel I want to write about what starting off the new year on the right foot.
So the question I end up with is “How do I find the balance between what I ought to do and what I want to do? And it is a balance. All of us constantly war with the pull of “ought to” or “must do” on one side and the pull of “want to” on the other. How we find the balance I think, depends on how well we listen to the voices around us – the outer voices of those wise and respected counsellors and friends that surround us, and the inner voices of the knowledge in our heads and and the emotions in our hearts. Probably the most helpful advice for me came from what was said in our sermon yesterday “Look inward for the new things that are being birthed. ” So that is what I am doing – I am spending time in contemplation and reflection. I am looking inward for the new things that are being birthed, though that does also involve looking outward because what happens outside – in our lives, our families, our communities and our world all impact the inner things that are being birthed.
What we do in the coming year will involve a lot of compromise. For some of us it will involve a lot of struggle and unexpected turns. So building on the New Year posts I have done in the past, my advice is :
- Make 2 lists – one of those things you ought to do and the other of those things you want to do.
- Circle the non negotiable – what MUST be done in the next year (or the next month).
- Strike out the impossible. Dreams are often unrealistic.
- Hone your navigating skills. Know how to steer, know how to follow the current and know how to catch the wind. As I mentioned previously: There is no such thing as failure. Setbacks are merely obstacles to be navigated around. In the process we often discover a totally new and transformative path that God has for us. It is good to have dreams and hopes for the future but it is good too to know how to navigate the setbacks and obstacles that prevent those dreams coming into being. My life experience has taught me that God often does have another plan for my life other than what I imagined.
- Be prepared to reinterpret your dreams. Part of what the journey of my life has taught me is that it is often necessary to reinterpret where God wants me to go and how God wants me to get there. For example I assumed that when I trained as a medical doctor I would be in family practice for all of my life but that was not the way that God led me. My life in Mercy Ships, then as director of Mustard Seed Associates and now as an author and blogger have all been unexpected steps in my journey. Each step has opened up new areas of understanding for me and has enriched my relationship to God far more than I could ever have imagined.
- God is faithful but God is not predictable. This is probably the greatest and hardest lesson of my life. I can make plans each year, and I think it is important to do so, but I need to allow the spirit to lead me along unexpected and unpredictable paths. Accepting that is liberating.
May God richly bless you as you too prepare for the year ahead.