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Growth in the Last Year and Moving Forward

In the days last several days leading up to this new year I was able to take some time to think about areas of my life that I want to cultivate in the coming year. I also took the time to think about the last 365 days and reflected on the growth that I experienced.

I’m closer to the Lord than I was at this time last year, and I was closer to him a year ago than the year before. That’s my favorite trend, and I hope to continue in that pattern of growth as long as I’m alive.

I also experienced major growth in my finances. My heart changed a lot toward money. I don’t seek as much gratification from shopping or acquiring material things as I did a year ago and certainly not prior to that. Let me be clear – I still enjoy shopping and having nice things, but I don’t “need” them to be happy. There are some spaces in my heart that have healed from the emptiness that once took up residence in it, and as a result, I spent less time seeking that kind of gratification last year.

I also saw God answer very big and very specific prayers for me. Michael and I both saw God’s faithfulness and provision in our lives, and we experienced a truth I had heard many times before – you can never out give God. It’s true. The more we gave, the more He blessed us. Michael already knew that from experience, but I set out to be more generous than ever last year and realized that my generosity will never come close to the Lord’s. I knew that before, but it’s more real and exciting to me than ever.

Another area of growth came when I started my job last January. Last week marked one year at work, and since I started my job in admissions, I have learned so much about the kind of employee I want to be. I also developed a deeper understanding of my gifts and strengths as I sought to be the kind of co-worker, friend, and encourager that I’d want to be around. At times, people tested my patience, and on a couple of occasions, they angered me. And at one point, a co-worker whom I’ve grown to care for deeply hurt my feelings (though not on purpose), and I handled all of it much differently than I would have just a few years ago. My heart was filled with a lot more grace this year.

And now, as I look ahead, I see areas in which I need to continue cultivating grace. My husband is more gracious and more patient than anyone else I’ve ever known. In fact, no one I know comes close, yet too often I expect perfection from him. We just came back from a trip to New York, and it was awesome to see him love the city I love so much.

We’ve adjusted to being married and have created a life that we enjoy together, but I’m going to be intentional about offering more grace toward him in the next year and not just because he’s gracious toward me. It’s my calling as his wife and as a Christ follower to offer grace because Christ has given so much to me. Again, we can never out give a God.

I also want to cultivate a love for healthy living. I don’t want to go on a diet. Seriously…I’m not interested in the latest fad diet that will help me lose 10 pounds this week, nor am I interested in what anyone is selling as the latest “lifestyle change.” I think it’s fantastic when people find what works for them, but what I want is to change my heart toward food and exercise. I want to cultivate habits that will make me healthier like eating more vegetables every day, drinking more water, exercising, and tracking my food intake. My plan is to take action on one of these at a time, then build upon those small actions to create a healthier life. This year marks 10 years since I’ve had a soft drink. I used to be addicted to Coke and Dr. Pepper, and I haven’t had either in almost a decade (regular or diet). I cultivated that habit a long time ago, and now I want to build on that by creating new ones.

In addition to food, I also want to continue to curb my spending. I came a long way last year, and I want to experience that kind of growth again this year. I’ve written down some goals that are quite personal in this area so that I can see progress over time.

I write down my thoughts, goals, and prayers – mostly offline these days – because I want to be able to look back and remember where I was just long enough to appreciate where I’m going.I think it’s important to work toward the future I want to have, but I also think it’s important to be present and to appreciate everything God has already done and everything he’s allowed me to accomplish.

This year, as I strive to better myself as a believer, a wife, a leader, an employee, a friend, and a graduate student, I want to be content in knowing that Christ is enough and that in Him, I’m enough. I want to confidently walk through the doors He opens for me and to be satisfied as I trust His timing.

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