Before the last presents are open and the turkey is still hot on the bone, we start thinking about goals and resolutions for next year. However, before we long for the changes the future might bring, it is important to reflect on the previous year.
We often look back on last year with a mental checklist. If boxes can be checked, it was a successful year. Finished the house renovation. Got an article published for the first time. Made the honor roll. Beat the habit. Got a raise or promotion or tenure. Graduated. Got married. Had a baby. Lost the pounds. Read 52 books. Reached 1,000 followers.
But what if you feel you have nothing to show for the year? How do we gauge annual success? I think we need to reframe the questions on which our checklist and performance-centered culture places value and gives verbal accolades. I think a better question for personal reflection is Have I been faithful? Even if I can check all the boxes and have accomplished my goals, have I been faithful to the primary work God has called me to as a son, daughter, spouse, parent, employee and, most importantly, a follower of Christ? In which ways do I need to prayerfully change in order to live a life of faithfulness?
In this season of reflection on the previous year and expectation for the New Year, I so easily become self-absorbed. What were my successes or failures last year? What are my goals and plans for the future? Our first and foremost prayer and focus should be faithfulness to Him. In our reflection, we should note the ways we have fallen short and call upon God’s grace in our lives to make us more like Christ. We cannot be perfectly faithful, but we live in hope in the coming year because God the Father is perfectly faithful. His name is Faithful. His faithfulness sustains us so we can live a life faithful to him.