What worked, what didn’t, and what’s next
“Everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds.” – John Newton
Newton had it right: God gave you what you needed and protected you from what you didn’t this year. And as I reflect on the past 365 days, a few things have become clear.
Friends, here’s what worked for me this year, what didn’t, and what’s next. Plus seven gentle questions to help you evaluate your year.
Giving thanks in all things.
This year landed me in the hospital and at the graveside of our 12-year-old lab. These were hard things, but they revealed to me the importance of giving thanks in all things.
I was grateful to be in the hospital because it gave me clarity on what was really important—my people, the ones who sometimes get less of me than I’d like. And I was grateful for my daily vacuuming sessions because it meant that ever-shedding Bela was still with us.
1. What can you give thanks for today even if it doesn’t seem ideal?
Choosing my absence.
“The biggest deception of our digital age may be the lie that says we can be omni-competent, omni-informed, and omni-present. We cannot be any of these things. We must choose our absence, our inability, and our ignorance,” wrote Kevin DeYoung in Crazy Busy.
In October, I melted down about the fact that I couldn’t do all the best practices of successful bloggers and “Good Moms.” My soul was squashed, and my rhythm unsustainable. Since then, I’ve chosen my absence: I won’t be on every social media platform, follow every best practice, or volunteer for every thing.
2. Where will you choose to be absent next year?
Letting go of service that felt like martyrdom.
In the past, I believed that serving meant martyrdom, suffering, disregarding my needs, and taking one for the team. I mean, if I really cared about church, people knowing Jesus, and homeless pets, I’d do more, try harder, and always be available… right?
This year, I was reminded that service means joy and overflowing love, never obligation. I don’t have to do All The Things. I simply follow my Shepherd who shows me what’s next.
3. What service has become martyrdom for you? What will you do about it?
I’m in love with Instagram feeds that are white, black, pink and gold. I love simple, clean lines. I love blogs with signatures as the headers, and people pontificating about wearing yoga pants. Prosaic, reflective, and soul-honoring writing grabs my heart.
But I’m not any of those things.
I’m blues, greens, and oranges. I’m wood and grass. My fonts are bold and structured. I wear jeans. I write how-to’s and what-to-do’s. While I love reflection and encouragement, I just don’t know what to do with my hands. And I want you to have practical steps on how to live out a grace-filled life.
4. What parts of you do you need to whole-heartedly embrace?
What Didn’t Work
My podcast idea.
This summer, I wanted to start a podcast. Ryan and I talked and prayed about it. I decided that, as much as I love you and the idea of being in your earbuds, it was a no go.
Wayne Muller writes in A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough, “…we must be willing to listen with the ear of the heart to the timing of things, to let go of any plan or requirement that does not feel in this moment authentically ripe or ready.” The podcast idea was great, but not ripe or ready.
5. What plan do you have that just isn’t ready yet?
Running… literally, running.
I’ve loved running since third grade P.E. Being outside, hearing my breath, and pounding the pavement make me so happy. But this year, my body said no thank you, so I’ve walked instead.
Walking makes me feel like a slacker… or like I’m 85. Running is more impressive and harder to do. But running didn’t feel right while walking did, so walking is what I chose.
6. What is your body telling you that you need to listen to?
Doing without caring for my soul.
One revelation from my October meltdown was that I was so busy doing that I wasn’t paying any attention to my soul. God created us to do and rest. When the scale tips too far one way, it’s time to recalibrate.
Achieving and serving are good, but so are soul care and compassion. Neglecting one aspect of who we are impacts the whole of who we are.
7. Are you skewed toward doing or toward resting? How can you tip the scales so you’re in balance?
Here’s what I know: I’m going to keep writing content that helps try-hard girls. Other than that? I have no idea.
I don’t have a master plan for next year. Will I start a podcast? No clue. Will I book more speaking engagements? I hope so, but I’m not in charge of that.
I love what Muller says, “We cannot draw the shape our lives will take, predict its future, or control its outcome. But we can, when we awake in the morning, live this one, sacred, miraculous day.”
Let’s make this next year the year we live one, sacred, miraculous day at a time by reflecting on what worked for us (and what didn’t) this year. Let’s trust that God is in control, try-hard girls, so we don’t need to be. As we close out our year, let’s remember…
Everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds.