I spent some time the other day looking over my journal entries from the past year. Like many of you, I wanted to use the turning of the calendar as an opportunity to do some reflecting and to make some changes. However, I didn't want to come up with the typical list of resolutions about eating less carbs or breaking free from the underground fight club. I wanted to see if I actually learned anything over the last year and if I could apply it to my life in 2014. I share this list because while it contains personal lessons, I think it could be easily applied to your situation.
The Weather Will ChangeThere's a saying in certain parts of the country that if you want the weather to change you just need to wait 15 minutes. Sun quickly turns to rain, or wind suddenly dies down. Even if your weather doesn't change rapidly, you can always count on the seasons to bring new conditions. The first thing I noticed about my entries from the past year is that each time I wrote, whether it was a day or a month later, my emotions were always different. I would be in abject despair about a certain situation only to discover a week later that it either resolved itself or God had given me the peace to deal with it.
Despite this obvious pattern, in each entry I behaved as if I completely lacked this perspective. The issue of the moment dominated, and I didn't have the peace God wanted me to have. For example, we just moved to Washington from Maryland, and many of my entries this past year were dominated by the theme of figuring out where to go next and how it was going to happen. Now that we're here in Washington, I'm realizing that I wasted a lot of energy fretting about circumstances that not only resolved themselves, but emotions that did as well.
Watch Less TVThe second major theme I noticed is connected to the first. I also discovered that I had a good bit of control over how quickly the emotional weather changed in my life. There were times throughout the year where I "relapsed" and swung back to feelings of frustration or anxiety and I noticed a direct correlation between my ability to deal with life and how I'd been spending my time.
The entries littered with quotes from books I was reading or passages of Scripture I was reflecting on were the ones where I had a healthy perspective on life and a measure of contentment. The weeks where I was just kind of getting by, going to work and watching a lot of Netflix seemed to be the times I completely lost perspective. I had no idea this was the case until I looked back at the whole year. I think it's important to note this because everything I'm saying is common sense, but when you're in the middle of it, when it's a Wednesday in February and you're just trying to make it through, you don't remember that how you spend your time matters.
I was so lazy and self involved during the TV heavy weeks! I think this is why many of our resolutions center around being more disciplined in some area of life, because we understand our harmful tendency to switch back to default mode. What a contrast when I was spending time with God and fixing my gaze outward! When I was focused on self, I was interested in what I was lacking and how this or that seemed unfair or unbearable and I needed it to change right now. It was like two different people were writing each time, the mature version of me and the 4 year old having a tantrum, which is kind of embarrassing. But it makes sense. If I spent 30 minutes in a given week praying, reading about God, or listening to a sermon, that couldn't compete with the hours upon hours spent watching fictional characters live the good life and get all the happy endings I thought I was missing out on.
2014So I'm committing to emotional consistency in the coming year. I'm realizing I have a lot of growing to do, and that I've been tossed about by the waves of life more than I care to admit. Maybe you feel some of the same and want to get off the roller coaster in the coming year. Remind yourself that your feelings will change, and take the steps towards peace and contentment by grounding yourself daily in Christ.
Me jogging: Ok, I made one stereotypical resolution