This time of year can be tough.
It’s cold and dark. For many people, it’s finally dawning on us that we have yet another three remaining long months of winter (or more). It’s the beginning of another semester of school, and the Christmas season is over. The few hours of sunlight we have seem to fly by all too quickly while the darkness stretches on and on. The warmth and carefree spirit of summer appears to be eons off into the future, and the trudge of January seems to be the only thing there will ever be. And, to top things off, people seem to be just a little more impatient and less kind than they did three weeks ago when it was Christmas.
For reasons such as these, this time of year I find myself wanting to do only a few things. Things such as…
For some crazy reason, I don’t find myself quite as motivated as I usually am during the rest of the year. Even while in class, I catch myself daydreaming and thinking about the things I have to get done before the day ends. Instead of focusing on the present moment, I often find myself in an “energy saver” mode: subconsciously saving energy in order to endure and make it through my tasks that are yet to come.
And subsequently, I’ve realized that I’m not putting my very best into anything that I’m doing.
Additionally, due to time spent dwelling on the future, I find myself consumed with plans and worries of what is to come. Thoughts such as “what am I going to do if this happens? Oh, what should I do to make that work smoother? Shoot, I don’t know much about that; perhaps I shouldn’t do it!”
But here’s the thing: We were not created to have thoughts preoccupied with fear; nor were we designed to live comfortable and controlled safe lives.
Lately I’ve been realizing more and more that I need to give up two specific areas of my life to the Lord:
fear and control.
God doesn’t want us to be preoccupied with what is to come or afraid of what may or may not happen. We don’t need to shy away from our fears, but instead we can confidently face them head on with the knowledge that the Lord is directly by our side. We don’t need to feel like we are the ones who are in control, because newsflash: we ultimately are not. Sure, we can plan and set goals of what we desire our lives to be like, but the course of our lives will ultimately be up to God and what He desires for each of us. There may be many possible routes; however, I’m a believer that if we trust Him, whatever He desires will eventually happen regardless of the decisions we make. Am I saying we don’t actually have free will? Of course not! But I’m also a believer that God works at an entirely different level and dimension beyond our own, and that He far surpasses the concept of free will. (But that’s a different topic and debate entirely.)
I love reading Psalm 46: 1-3. It says:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Philippians 4: 6-7 also says:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises SHAPE your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for Good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the CENTER of your life.”
So get out of your funk and quit focusing so much on the future. Be thankful for what you have in THIS MOMENT, because who knows when it will be your last. Focus on the now, and give up your worries and concerns to the only One who ultimately can take care of them.
Go live this week living more presently in every moment – consciously engaged, fulfilled, and loved.
Well, it’s officially 2016! Happy New Year World!
Did you make your New Year resolutions? Did you set new and exciting and achievable and challenging goals?
If you did, let me ask you this: why did you make them?
If you made those resolutions to impress somebody, or for someone else’s expectations, just stop right there because surprise! That’s ultimately not what is going to motivate you.
Well, “no duh”, right? But actually… don’t we all seem to be motivated because of other people to at least to some degree?
For 2016 I have a radical challenge for you: Let God be your source of inspiration. Look to Him for ideas and don’t make this next year about you and what others’ think of you, but instead shift your focus to others and on to bigger ideas.
Bigger ideas such as not being as consumed with yourself and what others think of you. (GUILTY)
Bigger ideas such as taking those few minutes to really listen to a friend (or anyone!) when you’re tired or preoccupied with your own little things (such as wanting to lie in your soft bed with your earbuds in listening to some good ol’ T-swift and musing over the daily grind of your own life). (GUILTY AGAIN)
Bigger ideas such as taking a break from social media in order to put your time towards more fulfilling and productive means. (I admit, I’m kinda being a hypocrite here considering I’m posting this on a source of social media; however, like I said it’s a goal of mine as well. And personal insight: It’s funny, but the days I don’t constantly check my Facebook, Instagram, etc. are the days when I feel most fulfilled and accomplished. This summer when I was working at camp there would be times when I couldn’t check my social media for weeks. And I didn’t miss it one bit. )
But back to what I was saying. Some radical ideas, ehh? Hah – not really. Then why are some of these things so difficult to put into action?
I think we all know the answer to that question. And I’m going to voice this somewhat unpleasant but real truth: as a generation growing up in an American culture that is obsessed with the individual and image, we are self-obsessed. We generally always put ourselves first, except for the few true selfless saints who are misfits in our selfish world and the rare occasion when we’re feeling noble and do the difficult thing.
But what would Jesus do? Yes, it’s become a cliché to say this. But actually, start thinking to yourself, how would He actually react in response to today’s world and every day encounters? What would He do? How would He live in America’s technological individualized society? How would He respond and look to God for inspiration?
Hmm. Just some things to think about.
To sum things up, let me just ask you a few more questions to keep your thoughts churning:
What is going to make this coming year different from last?
How are you going to grow? What is going to cause this growth?
What are you going to do to cause this growth?
And finally, how are you actively going to make God a part of your daily life? What is going to remind you of Him throughout your day? People? Journaling? Reading? Singing? It could be anything.
Ok, I’m actually summing things up now.
Make this year the year you kill yourself making others feel joy, acceptance, and love. There’s no greater feeling than knowing you’ve made someone’s day just a little brighter.
Look for opportunities to go outside your comfort zone and really challenge yourself to experience growth and satisfaction.
And finally (but not least importantly), seek God in everyday encounters in order to find true fulfillment and love.
These three things are a challenge for all of us and yes, are so much easier said than done I know. But let me leave you with a quote and a couple bible verses for encouragement:
Here's to a year of challenge, God, and growth! Happy 2016!
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.