Every year since fifteen, I’ve written goals for the New Year. I like to call them goals instead of resolutions, because honestly, we don’t really know what a year will hold. We can make plans, but plans fall short when a year can take us in directions we never saw coming.
This year, in my own reflective fashion, I settled myself on carpet with pens and notebooks. In 2016, I had tried something new before writing goals for the New Year. I reflected on the 365 days that had already been given to me. I didn’t write much, but the list contained snippets of 2016 that I didn’t want to forget in an entire lifetime of living. In 2016, husband and I went out of the country for the very first time and gave birth to our second daughter all in one exhilarating year! Impressive much.
I then wrote goals, but at the bottom of the list I wrote in big letters: This year, God just wants you to be faithful. Every time I found myself peeking at the goals and seeing what I hadn’t yet accomplished, I calmed my frustration by reminding myself to just be faithful to God in all the things placed, or hurled, into my hands.
I started writing a review of this year, and with every new thing I wrote, I paused long, shocked. It’s been a hard year. I wrote that in our Christmas letter, but the weight of seeing it all written down shook me. And it shook me too, because I know the one list item that derailed me, made me want to quit being faithful because it all hurt too much and why would God allow this of all things, of ALL things?
And with one shaky step of faith, I prayed angry words into a black, star-ridden sky, the stars God pointed out for Abraham to count when he told him that he’d make him a great nation but good ole’ Abe didn’t even have a kid and so how could a promise like that really come true?
But is anything too hard for God?
No, but it might be too hard for me.
Angry, I prayed.
And God knew.
He knew in 2016 that I’d near the end of 2017 and would stare at This year, God just wants you to be faithful and finally understand what he knew all along.
This year, I’ve written a few goals, some that have carried on from last year. I may get to a few, and it’s good, because like Ann Voskamp wrote in a recent blog post, “It doesn’t matter a hill of sprouting beans if you’re 9 and stomping your feet or 16 and slamming doors or 40 and distracting on your phone — hard things just keep calling you because you’re meant to answer to higher and better things.” In 2017, the hard thing for me on that lofty list of goals were the words written big and bold at the bottom. This year, God just wants you to be faithful.
God and I have a pretty interesting dialogue of prayer. It’s not the holiest of holy. It’s more like how the Psalmist David spoke gritty and real, imperfect David, telling God exactly how he felt because how else do you go about prayer, really? I’ve written goals for 2018, like, you know: write more blog posts like you didn’t do this year, but I have a new overarching goal that I feel God is lovingly giving me for 2018: This year, do more of what you love.
And you bet I have a list for what I love.
So maybe instead of focusing so much on goals in 2018, we could all pray gritty and real prayers to God and just ask him: What, God, can I bring to this New Year? What do you want me to do? Because when we come down to it — he already knows what our New Year will hold, and he’s the only one I know who keeps all his resolutions.