The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
The other day, Brody came home and shared that during Bible class they had all taken a Myers-Briggs personality test. If you aren’t familiar with Myers-Briggs, you can check it out here. Basically, it includes four different pairs of traits with 16 different possible combinations.
It’s kind of a joke among family and friends that my oldest, Brock, is like his dad, and my youngest acts just like me. So, it was no surprise that our Myers-Briggs results were basically the same. He is an ENFP, and I am an INFP. The E and I stand for extrovert and introvert. (That basically means that he gets his energy from being around other people, and I recharge by being by myself).
Despite that difference, there are a lot of ways my son and I are alike. One of those ways is that we are both idea-people, with ideas popping up so fast, it’s kind of like whack-a-mole, but with ideas.
Looking Back Isn’t My Natural Tendency
As idea people with lots of different interests and passions, it’s easy to jump to the next project or idea without ever looking backward at all to see what worked and what didn’t with previous things.
This tendency is never more present for me than at the start of a new year. I get excited about all the possibilities, and ideas for projects and goals flood in. This makes things difficult in two ways. First, it’s hard to know what ideas and goals to pick because as I’ve been learning in recent years, I can’t do ALL THE THINGS! The second issue is that I get so excited about what is coming up that I usually forget to take a look behind me to see what I’ve learned, so I can better move forward.
Giving Yourself the Gift of Time
So this year, instead of jumping in with tons of goals and projects the first week of January, I’ve given myself the gift of time – time to sort through 2017 (which was a tough year around here), and look at what I learned. Before stepping into all the new and shiny, I want to take stock of the old and broken-in and decide what I want to take with me and build upon in the new year.
This is a practice I want to implement in more areas than just new year’s resolutions, though. I did a lot of journaling about what I was learning as I worked my way through the Gospels this year, and I wrote out a lot of my prayers this year to stay focused. I also wrote down quotes from some of the books I was reading.
Taking the time to look through those journals was eye-opening and encouraging. I was able to see ways that God answered my prayers, themes of what God was teaching me, lessons I’d learned, and wisdom I had read (which would have been lost in the files of my brain probably forever if I hadn’t written them down!).
Lessons from 2017
As I look back at 2017, I’d love to share with you a few key lessons (besides the importance of looking back!) I learned that I hope you’ll find helpful, too.
The importance of writing things down
As I said before, I did a lot of journaling this year, and it was a huge blessing in my life. I tend to process and learn through writing, so writing down what I was studying and learning as I read my Bible helped me to both remember what I was learning and be able to go back to refresh my memory. I have also started to write down my favorite quotes from books I was reading. Since I read a lot, this has been an especially great practice for me, so those little gems don’t get lost or forgotten!
The importance of prayer
It seemed everything I read, everything I heard all pointed to the importance of prayer. I know this seems like a no-brainer to those of us who grew up in the church, but knowing something and doing it are two totally different things. In my quest to understand prayer better, I did a short study on prayer in the Bible. It showed me a few things. First, I found that the prayers recorded in the New Testament had much more to do with others spiritual well-being than their physical well-being. Not that we shouldn’t pray for others physical well-being, but it’s equally, if not more, important to pray for their spiritual well-being, too. The second thing I saw was the importance of being persistent. This is something I struggle with because it feels rude to me, but it’s stressed multiple times with positive results.
The importance of the eternal
I spent much of 2017 reading through the Gospels. For whatever reason, I had kind of resisted studying the them. After all, wasn’t it four versions of the same, exact story? Hadn’t I heard all the stories umpteen times? I am so glad that I overcame that resistance though because God showed me so many awesome things. One of those things was the value Jesus placed on the eternal over the physical. This year was a year of loss for me. I not only lost my dad, but a great-aunt and great-uncle, along with my parents’ best friends. That eternal perspective was a life line during loss.
The importance of doing one thing at a time
In our crazy, busy world, it seems like you have to multi-task to even have a hope of keeping up. What I realized this year is there is no such thing as multi-tasking. In reality, you are just switching back and forth between two or more things. As someone who is easily distracted, this is just a recipe for disaster for me. I have found great freedom and peace from giving myself permission to concentrate on one thing at a time. Try it, you might like it too!
The importance of knowing your limits
In the past year, God has been really teaching me that I can’t do all the things. I know this should be fairly obvious, but I have struggled with over-scheduling myself and being very stressed out as a result. I am the queen of thinking I can do way more in an allotted time period than is remotely possible. Because of that, I have felt a lot of frustration last year. I am also interested in a lot of different things, so I have a hard time saying no to new commitments. So, this year, I’m trusting God that I won’t miss anything important as I limit what I focus on and clear off my calendar.
The importance of anchoring your hope in Jesus
As I looked back in my journal, I saw over and over again that I had doodled the words from an old hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” With everything going on in the world and what was happening in my own, personal world, I realized once again that the only firm foundation is Jesus. It is only through HIS strength that I can do anything at all. It is only through HIS steadfastness that I can have peace in the midst of turmoil.
The importance of planning ahead
I am not much of a planner, and tend to be more of a by the seat of my pants type of girl. I tend to resist planning because it feels restrictive to me, but I am learning that when used correctly, it can offer freedom. By planning ahead, I can eat better, use my time more wisely and be more intentional about spending time with my people. I started work on my first novel in November, and I decided that I needed to do some plotting (planning ahead) rather than just diving in. This has been a refining process and doesn’t come naturally for me, but I believe I will have a much better, richer novel than if I had just plunged in without any planning at all.
The importance of leaving the outcome to God
I don’t know about you, but when God asks me to do something I tend to get all wrapped up in the outcome. As I prepared to speak at a teen conference in the spring, I found myself tied up in knots over how good of a job my words would do. I had gotten caught up in the trap of thinking the outcome was up to me. In reality, all God asks of us is our obedience. He is the one who is responsible for the outcome. I don’t know about you, but that takes a huge load off my shoulders.
So how about you? What did God teach you in 2017? I’d love to hear about it!