I’d been thinking a lot lately about what I wanted my goals for the new year to be. What mattered? What was going to drive me forward? What was going to change me, and ultimately bring me closer to God?
To be honest, I was hesitant to publish my posts on purpose and resolutions because I wanted to make sure that was where I was at. But, I decided to do it because those posts were aimed just as much at me. I want to be kept accountable to those things, and it’s the same thing with my goals.
This is kind of a late “What I learned in 2017” post as well as a 2018 goals post. And, warning, it may turn into a rambling mess of personal stuff. But I’m hoping that y’all can take something away from this like i did.
So, after a lot of thought, I decided on a word and a verse for the year. My word is forgiveness. My verse is Philippians 4:4-8.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever thing are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.” NKJ
In 2017, more than ever, I struggled with stress, and with bitterness. A lot of the time, my stress and bitterness had the same object. Sometimes someone, sometimes something, and other times a situation or something I was doing. And whether I was worried, had a deadline, or had something I needed to get something done, I was constantly stressed.
I knew this verse; I’d had it memorized for years; I knew what it meant; I’d heard it quoted numerous times. But I think that if I’d been living by it, I wouldn’t have had to endure all the stress that I did last year. I wouldn’t have been anxious. Because, as the verse clearly tells me, I would know Who to bring all of this to.
So, this is a verse I want to live in assurance of. I want to strive to live by it. Here’s where I struggled, and what I learned:
In the area of bitterness…
The first line says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” That’s really hard sometimes. Even being children of God, and constantly being told we have the joy of the Lord, it isn’t always easy to have a positive attitude toward everything. In fact, it’s pretty hard. I found myself complaining a lot last year. And it got quite depressing. When I realized how often I complained about my circumstances and situations, I would think to myself, gosh, do you have anything good to think about? Do you have any reason to be happy? It doesn’t seem like it.
If I had to choose one area in my life that God was working on the most last year, I’d have to say it was forgiveness. Until just a couple years ago probably, I held grudges against people who had done me wrong in kindergarten. Yeah, *hides* I’m not proud of that. And there have been many people between then and even to this past year who I hadn’t forgiven- who I’d been bitter against. And I’m sure I still haven’t forgiven everyone I ought to. Last year was crazy, too. Stress and bitterness had to same antecedent this past year, so it was really hard to move past. I’m still not sure I have completely.
But my goal this year is to forgive. My goal is to move past bitterness, and to rejoice in the Lord rather than complain. We have been given eternal life because of what Jesus did for us. Even if that was all He ever did for us, it would be enough. But it wasn’t! We have so, so many reasons to rejoice, and my goal is to start living like that instead of complaining about everything that’s wrong. I ended up telling my good friend to shut me up if I started complaining. We’re both doing that for each other now 🙂
In the area of stress…
I’m pretty sure stress is my middle name, and not Aline. As I mentioned, my bitterness and anxiety resonated a lot from the same place. I can’t remember a year that was quite as stressful as last year. I won’t go into detail about it, but several things were going on in my church, and it consumed my thoughts all the time. It was a lot of the reason I complained so much. And along with writing, school, as well as trying to blog, play music, and just get things accomplished in a day, it was a lot.
But what I never really took to heart- not truly, or things might not have been so stressful- was this verse. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Did you know that there is a God in heaven who loves you and wants to help you? He’s just waiting for you to ask. He’s waiting for you to pray. And let me say, I spent a lot more time complaining about it rather than praying about it. And all along, I could’ve given it all- the stress, the worry, the bitterness, all of it- to Him. And I could’ve experienced that peace that “surpasses all understanding.” But rarely did I sit down and ask for help. And when I did- when I laid it all down before Him- I found myself picking it right back up again.
That’s not what we’re supposed to do when we give something to Him… When we give something God, we’re entrusting it to Him. If it’s anxiety, you’re trusting that He is enough, and that His grace is sufficient. If it’s bitterness towards someone who has wronged you, you’re leaving it in the hands of a just God. “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” If it’s a loss of someone close to you, you’re believing that God has a plan for it, and you’re trusting in His will. And I’m hoping to give it to Him this year and never touch it again. I hope you’ll do the same thing. Remember that there’s a God who loves you. He’s just waiting for you to talk to Him.
In the area of thoughts…
Have you ever kind of…justified your thoughts “because you’re a writer”? Allowed the complaints and bitterness and whatever else might go through your mind on a daily basis in because you’ve got a wild, writer’s brain?
I have… I mean, it’s so easy to justify wrong thoughts that way. Or sometimes, I don’t justify them. I just go back and forth, like, this is ok, right? It doesn’t matter what I think about. Nope. “Take every thought captive.” Again, maybe it’s just me. But I think we could all really start applying the last part of the verse to our lives- it’s the hardest part for me.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever thing are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.”
It’s so funny, because one day I was thinking about my problems. And I thought of the middle of this verse. But then, I remembered the rest, like, out of nowhere, and it was like…wait a minute. This directly applies to my thought life issues. It’s not that I didn’t know that. But the realization that those verses were together in the same spot was almost kind of a *mind-blown* moment for me. And it pushed me to take it more seriously. To take it to heart.
My goal verse this year- it’s Philippians 4:4-8. I don’t want to just know it, have it memorized. I want to live by it.
So, this post was really all over the place *gives you hugs for sticking around*, but this is what I’ve struggled with and hope to change this year. I hope that you guys can take away from this as well.
To wrap up this post (and get back into a lighter mood haha), here are a few things on my goals list/bucket list.
GOALS & BUCKET LIST
- Read at least 36 books. (Kinda sad compared to all you book worms, maybe, but it’ll be an accomplishment if I can actually get this much read).
- Prepare my dystopian novel to send off for a critique. (Maayyybbbeee. We’ll see what happens).
- Finish Driver’s Ed and get my license.
- Write a novel for Camp NaNo in April and July.
- Win NaNoWriMo. (Because I’m seriously pumped after this past NaNoWriMo).
- Go to Realm Makers. (THIS IS A BIG ONE.)
- Go see the Han Solo movie. (My expectations for this movie are far too high).
- Go see Infinity War movie. (If it’s clean…sadly, it likely won’t be…)
- Get a job?
- Practice forgiveness and live by this verse.
- Have more of an “after high school” plan.
So, can you relate to any of this?? What are your goals and/or bucketlist for the new year? Tell me your list in the comments!