I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. That’s not to say that I never make commitments to change or set out to try something new. I just don’t usually make significant changes at the new year. For me, January first is far too challenging of a date to make alterations. Change has never come easy for me; I need significant time to adjust, and the week after the Christmas holiday is never good timing.
My role as a musician and worship leader is pretty significant during Advent and up until Christmas. It is all I can do to stay afloat during December. I love every moment of it, but I would be lying if I didn’t confess to it often being a challenge. So when January comes, I often crash.
And it’s not a good crash. We’re not talking about taking the time to rest and rejuvenate here. We’re talking about a mental, emotional, and spiritual crash. Some might call it depression, but I have chosen not to give it a name. It is simply the time of year when I have enough down-time to truly focus on my circumstances. It doesn’t take me long to become discouraged. Often, January first brings the realization that not much has changed since January first of the previous year. I am still single, living alone, only a few close friends, and limited opportunities to pursue my writing and music outside of the church. In many ways, I can look back on a year ago and see advancement, but in the core areas listed above, there is often very little to no change.
When I woke up on January 1, 2016, the dawning of another year struck me with full force. Once again, December had me running at full speed, and I hadn’t stopped to reflect on 2015. A great deal had changed leading in to the new year, but a lot of it had been taken away: no Bible studies to attend or lead, very few gatherings at my home, and the biggest loss of all— no camp.
Now before you start to feel sorry for all that I don’t have as I enter 2016, please consider that I eliminated many of these elements from my life intentionally. I sensed I needed some quiet time to re-evaluate my relationship with God in hopes of discovering my next steps in life. In many ways, the quiet reflection has been good for me, but my soul yearns to rush out into the world to do something— anything to serve, learn and grow.
But what is that something? I don’t yet know. So I have continued to pray earnestly, continually asking God what’s next for me on the horizon, but as of yet I have not received any clear direction. This is a new stage in my life. I am typically the go-getter, organizer, and planner. I do my best to perceive God’s leading in my life, but often, I am too independent and stubborn to wait on His response. Too restless to just sit around and wait, I jump at the next opportunity just for something to do. That’s where I can so easily get into trouble. So this waiting and discerning has been a new and very beneficial exercise for me.
There’s a show that I sometimes watch during the summer months called “Big Brother.” This reality-based drama follows the experiences of cast members as they live together in a house for nearly three months, competing for power and control of the household. In the end, one person is crowned the winner after all but two contestants are voted out of the house. The show has an interesting motto each summer: “Expect the Unexpected.”
That motto— that is exactly what I want to hold to in the coming year. You might even call it a resolution of sorts. I don’t want to presume to know what God might have on the horizon for me to do next. I don’t want to set goals and press forward with dreams if they are not a part of His plan for me. True, He may place a thought or idea in my heart, but I want to be certain I hear His voice clearly before I move forward. Instead of resolving to do all I can to move forward in an endeavor, I want to expect that He will pave the way for me. He knows what is coming next, and He will lead me there. It isn’t my job to create expectations for where I think I should be at a particular place and time.
Life comes with ups and downs. Sometimes, the steps forward are easy and seem weightless, while at other times we trudge forward because the pathway before us isn’t clear. In either circumstance, God knows the way, and instead of striving, it is our job to let Him lead and bring us where He calls us to be. Answers may not come overnight. It may be a struggle. Hopefully, there will be times of celebration along the way. In the end, waiting on Him and discerning His direction will be the better alternative.
I am choosing to set my expectations and resolutions aside to embrace His expectations for me. Expect the unexpected? There’s no better call to adventure than this!