In the words of counting crows, "It's been a long december and there's reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last..."
December began good and didn't end very poorly, but God certainly knew what He was doing by drawing my attention to advent because the last couple weeks of December were stressful and frustrating at times....and I was relieved to see it end......and after reading people's facebook statuses on New Years, I realize that most people felt the same way I did about 2011: Ehhhh..... not the worst year but certainly nothing special. It was filled with challenges in relationships, church, work, frustrations, etc.
I also noticed two sentiments: unbridled hope that the number of a year or a new years resolution could change one's life so drastically (not that goal setting is bad) or continued pessimism that the next year would be as uneventful or as hurtful as the year before.
I don't want any of these sentiments. I want to hope, but not in my own abilities, in my Lord. And, I don't want to pessimistic....I want to believe the Lord is working in me and that there will be changes in me a year from now....So on top of my "I am going to start running" and "bill more hours at work" type of resolutions, here are some of mine for the new year:
1. I want to go forth each day, each month, each year -- believing that we have a God that can bless, heal, provide and most importantly, work for our good (even when it doesn't feel that way). I want to trust His timing.
2. Although advent has ended, I don't want to leave the manger at Christmas. I want to constantly be aware that God is with us, that as I watch families mourn sick ones or try to encourage a friend struggling with temptation or loss or loneliness, Our God knows that pain...and felt it.
3. I want to live in constant prayer -- for myself and others....prayer that believes; prayer that is immediate and constant; and prayer that is true relationship with my Savior, not just words and formulas and checklists.
4. I want to live very aware of my sin and God's grace- but also, making an effort to put sin to death on a daily basis.
5. I want to live more aware of how to love others well, even better than myself-- striving to care for hurting friends more and striving to even pray for my enemies (this last one is the hardest for me). This will be hard - loving others well and praying for those who hurt me -- but the Lord loves us well and hopefully through Him, I can care for others.
6. I want to be aware of God's faithfulness and protection- even in the smallest measures....the friend who happens to call on a day where you were feeling down or the way you barely avoided that wreck on the interstate. We look for His provision in so many ways and feel dissapointed but sometimes He provides for us daily in small ways and we often don't notice those.