[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]I[/mk_dropcaps]t is easy to get reflective at this time of year. The reminder that yet another year is about to end has that feeling of a deadline. The question "Did I accomplish all I wanted to this year?" can loom in the back of our minds. With this kind of reflection, to some degree you can expect a degree of discouragement to follow. I'm not being negative. The truth is you and I both are not exactly where we wanted to be at the end of this year. The gap between our expectations and our reality is what breeds this discouragement. Guilt and frustration can flow in that gap if we are not careful. Today I wanted to draw attention to this not to amplify it, but to share a solution that is powerful. Chances are you already know it, but I want to make you aware of it again. To battle against discouragement, it is important to remember what recent victories we have had. To look again at the progress we have made, not only to how much further we have to go. I had to do this myself last weekend. I was struggling with feeling like a failure (for no particular reason) and it was weighing on me far more than normal. While talking to my husband about it he asked me this question: “Have you stopped to look back on what fruit you’ve produced this year?"
As He asked that question, it was like the lights went on again. My focus had become so narrow, I could only see the seeds that have yet to sprout, much less produce a harvest. Another way to put it is, my thoughts shifted from celebrating the little wins to obsessing over every the defeat.
In a performance dominated society (in athletics or business), we are taught to evaluate things down to the detail and focus on the areas where greatest improvement can be made (aka-the weakest areas). No wonder so many of our thoughts go to what is wrong almost automatically. If like myself you do this, then take this post as your reminder. "What wins/fruit have you had in your life today, this week, this month, this year?" I guarantee it, if you really think through this there are FAR more than you realize.
This kind of reflection is the healthy kind, it is the key antidote to guilt and insecurity. When we get tempted to soak in the discouragements of time past, switch the thought to what has gone right. You will inject yourself with fresh courage and faith for the battles of the year ahead.
With so much negativity, fear, and insecurity in the world today it’s easy to get sucked into looking at our lives for what has not yet happened. We set an atmosphere in our minds, and as a result in our lives, of despair. As children of God, that is going contrary to what we were made to do. We are built to be children of light.
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of love, power, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7).[/mk_blockquote]
As we wrap up 2016 instead of only dreaming and planning for how much better 2017 will be, make sure you have paused to encourage yourself with how far you have come. It is a form of gratitude. Let me help you, take some time and ask these questions:
What did you accomplish this year?
How did you positively impact those in your family? Your friends? Your coworkers?
How did you grow this year?
Do this until you feel your courage and excitement for 2017 increase. Until you know that while you are not where you want to be, you sure aren’t anywhere close to where you were at the end of 2015! 2017 will be your best year yet, it won't look like what you picture, but it will leave you better than you are today. The adventure awaits friends!