We’re one week into 2016, and it seems like the whole world is looking ahead; setting goals, making resolutions, and planning to have the best year ever. I’ve done that too. It’s fun to dream about a better, healthier future, and the fact that I’ve never once actually kept a New Year’s resolution seems completely irrelevant on January 1.
This year I’m trying something different, though. Instead of immediately gazing into a hazy, uncertain future, I’m first spending some time looking backwards and taking stock of the year gone by. This year I’m trying to focus on the simple things I did in 2015 that helped me be a better wife, mom, and follower of Christ. Instead of resolving to lose 15 pounds (although that would be amazing), I’m going to resolve to keep doing the things that worked; to be even more faithful in the small things.
Here are some of the simple, practical things that worked for me in 2015.
- Bible Study – After many years of saying I was too busy to join the Wednesday afternoon Bible study, 2015 was the year that I finally said yes. It turned out to be one of the very best decisions of the year. The study itself (The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges) was excellent, but the deep, meaningful discussion was something that my soul had been missing. Iron really does sharpen iron, and the ladies in the study helped me mature and grow in a way that I couldn’t have on my own.
- Walking – I didn’t have a perfect record of walking regularly this year, but when I did, it worked. Aside from the exercise, which is so good for me, I’ve learned that walking is good for my brain. I’m an introvert who needs lots of quiet time to process my thoughts. Walking gives me that time and space to really think (without any kids talking to me). I use that time to pray, listen to podcasts, process books that I’m reading, and let my brain think creatively for awhile. Ironically, a little time away helps me be more attentive and engaged with my family for the rest of the day.
- Simplifying – 2015 was the year that my husband and I let go, both physically and emotionally, of our stuff. We got really serious about de-cluttering and de-owning, realizing that the hold our stuff had on us was unhealthy. I was unprepared for the sense of freedom and relief that comes from living with less. In hindsight, the work God did with us in this area was crucial to our ability to let go of our plans, our comfort, and even our house later in the year.
I do have goals for the New Year; new books to read, places to visit, and things to learn. Some I’ll manage to accomplish, and some I won’t. I plan to keep remembering and practicing, though, the things God has already taught me about living in community with other believers, about spending time alone, and about valuing Him above any of my material possessions.
I would love to hear what God taught you in 2015, what simple things you’re planning to continue doing in 2016, or what you’re really hoping to accomplish in this new year.