Thoughts for the New Year

By Ashley Synowicki

Another year over . . . another one beginning . . .

There is something about starting a new year that gives me a sense of relief and the promise of new possibilities. I feel as though I can put off whatever old habits and situations held me back the previous year and look forward to a new path, one filled with new priorities and high expectations. It doesn’t take long, however, to find myself listing off all the ways I somehow fell short the past year and ways that I’m going to commit to “do better” in 2018.

Sometimes if I’m really on top of my game, I might even consult with God and pray about what He would have for me in the upcoming year. We all know that talking with our Father is an important practice and should not be neglected. No matter if I am looking to the start of a new year, or simply preparing my heart and mind for each and every day, relationship with Him is critical.

However, there is one thing about my perspective that tends to be flawed. In all of my planning and preparing, I somehow forget to thank Him for the past. I forget to reflect and remember 2017 and all of the joy and all of the sorrow and all of the growth that came because of that joy and sorrow. Somehow I enjoy all of the learning and growth that comes from the past year, but I forget how that was acquired. I forget that in order to move forward and grow, I have to be stretched, and that is most certainly uncomfortable.

I also find myself creating a list of doing for myself. It is incredibly easy to let my mind run away with all of the things that I want to do and become. Even if I create that list prayerfully and through God’s guidance, once that list is created I often think I can take it from there. I thank God for His input and perspective, and then I again begin down the path of self-effort and trying all on my own. I really should not be surprised when two months into the following year, those resolutions I prayerfully considered in conversation with our Father, have been unsuccessful. When will I learn that anything done in my own strength will never last?

He won’t bless all of my doing and trying, and I’m so glad He doesn’t. Only after I’ve failed, or find myself incredibly frustrated, will I remember to allow Him into the process. Only then do I begin to pull from His strength and wisdom to accomplish whatever goals He would ask of me. The only way I’ll be able to keep any resolution that’s worth keeping will be through His strength, constantly tapping into his desires and promptings for my life through the Holy Spirit. Even if I’m pursuing a goal that God would have for me, if I don’t do it with Him allowing Him to be in charge, it won’t last.

My prayer for 2018 is that my gaze would be on Him this year instead of looking to the ever-growing list of things I feel I ought to be. I pray I would have a fresh and renewed perspective. I’m asking God for an awareness to recognize myself moving toward anxiety, which is a huge red flag that I am attempting to tackle something all on my own. If my emotions are growing and frustrations rising, if I end the day totally exhausted because of all of the self-effort I mustered, I want to take notice of that. Yes there is important work to do and it will not be easy, however, I am not to fret. My stress level does not need to rise because my circumstances change. I am not my own workmanship, nor do I want to be left to my own devices. I am His, and He is responsible for the fruit in my life, however big or small that may be.

My resolution this year really only consists of one thing: to continually remind myself day after day of who I am in Christ, and what my role is and is not. He is the potter; I am the clay. I need only be obedient in His calling and in His timing, as He shapes my life.

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