Thoughtfully Entering the New Year

by Jamie Bonnema

On a snowy day, I sit at the computer to write. The kids are quietly playing after a morning of sleeping in. The brightness from the snow defeats the overcast sky, and I feel perfectly cozy in my sweats on the couch. In these moments I can do some quiet thinking, continual praying, and flush out a few ideas roaming in my head. I’m very thankful God gives us moments like this to just sit still and catch our breath.

I had a visit with family over the break. A question caught me a bit off-guard as I forgot a new year, even a new decade, was sneaking up on me. I was just enjoying the Christmas season, making it through each event without a catastrophe, and aiming for a joyful spirit despite some challenges. But there the question was, and I had not yet solidified my answer.

“What are your New Year’s goals?”

If you had asked me about fifteen years ago, I would have said that I usually do not make New Year’s resolutions but just try to take each day living my best. Within the last decade I’ve realized that progress quickly becomes a situation that is standing still, or moves backwards, without a goal and a plan. At the minimum, ambiguous goals stay fuzzy and unattained, and I tend to justify my lack of achievement.

I see a lot of articles floating around the internet which offer some comfort to the person who is weary of being more, doing more, achieving more. You’ve seen them, too–articles about relief for overburdened moms, help for people who can’t say “no” to anything thrown their way, and that we are enough just the way we are. I understand these articles completely. Their words are needed at one time or another, to assist us through a difficult time, help us feel at peace about not taking on another thing, and affirm that our jobs as parents are not diminished by lack of focus on anything else around us. There is an important place for these kinds of messages, for sure, and different seasons in our life will definitely confirm that. That being stated, these ideas are not to replace or be separated from another message:

We are made for more than we realize, and we can accomplish far above what we think is possible, WITH CHRIST.

As we set out to make a plan for the next year, the next decade, and the rest of this century (because our impact does not stop with our death), I challenge us all to first reflect. Reflect on who God made us to be. Reflect what Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection has allowed to take place in our hearts. Let’s ponder what we are to do with what God has blessed us. Let’s think about what the areas are in our lives we are least likely to trust God. What things are difficult to surrender for fear of the changes that obedience requires?

As I pose these thoughts, I am dissecting them for myself. I know the areas I want to improve. I know the desires of my own heart. But, I have to admit that I have not exactly approached these thoughts in the light of God’s all-knowing wisdom, His strength, His forgiveness, His mercy, and the discernment of the Holy Spirit. But, what if I did? How would my new year look? When I sit down a year from now, will I see the fruit of these decisions? Will five years from now show evidence of a determined spirit and a humble heart?

I’m guessing the best is yet to come, should I get my heart aligned with His, be faithful in following through with the things He has entrusted to me, and set my focus on a plan that I have made not by myself, but with the help of my Creator. I hope you will walk alongside me as we encourage each other to achieve our goals not alone, but have an ever present consciousness of where our strength comes.

I wish you a Happy New Year, blessed with God’s Spirit in your life, a committed heart, and a desire to pursue a closer relationship with Christ above any earthly goal.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. John 14:16

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalms 90:17

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3

For more learning, go to Matthew 25:14-30 to see how God wants us to use what he has entrusted to us in The Parable of the Talents.

Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor for residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a nutrigenomics company, enjoys working with GCA in various roles, and loves outdoor recreation.