December 26th might be my favorite day of the year.
I mean no disrespect to Christmas, I love every bit of it, but there is something so glorious about that week after. Dec. 26th-Dec. 30th are my favorites, the days of absolutely zero expectations. They are the days of staying in your sweats all day, of kids content to play with new toys and read new books, the days of cleaning and tossing and organizing and attending exactly zero parties. Again, don’t get me wrong, those things are great. But by the 26th I am partied out, and I’m eager to hang up all my festive-wear and don a hoodie and messy-bun for five (or 50) days straight.
It isn’t just that I love holing up in my house (I do), it’s that this week affords time for introspective, reflection, musing, dreaming. These are my favorite things!
As I peruse the social media world, I notice that many are ready to set fire to 2016. Too many movie stars died and the elections left us bloodied and bruised. I get it– we lost not one, not two, but three dearly loved family members this summer. My kids had never been to a funeral and then they went to three within 6 weeks!
But let’s not set fire to 2016 yet. It would be a tragedy to move on too quickly. As I mentioned in last year’s post, we do well to spend ample time reflecting and evaluating the past year. If we don’t, we are apt to run headlong into the 2017, bound to make the same mistakes, not learning a lick from the events of our past.
Again, without meaning a bit of disrespect, I was saddened as I read through articles outlining the lives of various movie stars who had passed away. So much brokenness, drug use, immorality, depression, mental-illness. These are the people we’re paying billions of dollars to watch on a big screen or stage or arena? Again, I’m not saying these people are bad, I’m saying it seems like the entertainment industry often destroys people. It seems that our obsession with fame, beauty, and money has created a filthy breeding ground for every form of disfunction.
So why do we keep feeding the monster?
Various charities are struggling along, barely able to cover their expenses and their faithful employee’s meager salaries, while movies are netting billions of dollars and sports fans are forking out thousands for a single seat at a game.
Something is wrong with this picture, yes?
Similarly, we lamented our two choices in the recent election. But have we taken responsibility for OUR contribution? Have we acknowledged our own weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings? Have we acknowledged that both candidates are, in some measure, reflections of US?
I think what keeps us bound, more than anything else, is our unwillingness to acknowledge our own personal failure. I once read of a person who got divorced and was re-married three days later. Say what?! It’s as if to say the problem was the old person, but now that there’s a new person, the problem will go away.
But that’s not it. Right? A new person won’t fix us. A new year won’t fix us.
The only thing that can “fix” us is when we honestly, humbly acknowledge before God the ways that we have personally failed. The ways we have neglected, overlooked, ignored, wronged.
Only God can fix us, and He only can when we admit we need fixing.
I’m realizing this post is sort of a downer, and I don’t mean it to be! I just mean that before we can make glorious goals, before we can dream and plan and visualize a more glorious future, we must take the time to sit before our Father and ask the hard, but critically important question:
Where did I fail this year?
Not in a vague, depressing way, like, “I’m a big fat failure as a person.” NO! That’s not it. It’s the stuff of:
- I allowed myself to veg-out on social media, when I could have been reading aloud to my kids or investing in quality books.
- I wasted a lot of energy obsessing over what people thought, instead of spending time in prayer asking the Father to speak His truth over me.
- I ignored a His still, small voice when He convicted me about a certain thing, and I chose to do my own thing instead.
- I stayed quiet in that situation where I felt prompted to speak, because I was afraid of how I might be perceived by others.
- I ignored my neighbors and those in need, because we were so focused on ourselves.
- I neglected my Bible reading and times of prayer with God.
- I spent more time and money on entertainment, comfort, and amusement than on giving, alleviating suffering, and investing in the eternal kingdom of God.
Our culture is so obsessed with not wanting anyone to feel the sting of failure. But failure helps us! We will learn from it if we’re brave enough to admit it.
I’d venture to say we all want to live a life of no regrets. Interestingly, we do this not by ignoring our shortcomings or failures. If we are careful to reflect back on what we do regret, we’re more likely to make course-corrections, and when we get to the end we CAN look back and see a life without regrets.
Are we willing to ask the hard questions? Are we willing to sit down, in the silence, alone with our Father and ask Him for HIS year-end evaluation? Do we know His love enough to trust His words? Do we trust His gentleness to know that He won’t destroy us, but that He’ll kindly and mercifully bring to mind the areas He wants to transform this coming year?
Perhaps, we might carve out a quiet moment, just an hour or two, and ask our Heavenly Father to speak His truth over our 2016. Even if it’s hard, we will bear the beautiful fruit of repentance when we’re let Him do His work. With all my heart, THANK YOU for reading along this year. We’ll talk about more fun things next time. 😉 Thanks for reading.