Happy weekend! I recently purchased a new calendar system for 2021 and eagerly started working on the goal setting features. Of course, the first steps include looking back and evaluating the previous year. That got me to thinking about the value of careful and thoughtful reflection for the purpose of clarifying the past and pressing on. So I thought today we’d talk about the beauty of reflecting and clarifying.
The irony of year 2020 being one of the most difficult to navigate has not been lost on me. In fact, if you’re someone who likes to prayerfully or thoughtfully establish a word of the year each January, you may have even chosen a word such as “clarity,” “vision,” or “insight” as your word to press into, thinking that the year 2020 would certainly be a good year to look at your life with 20/20 vision.
Ha! How’d that turn out for us?
Instead, 2020 has been fraught with uncertainty, disunity, constant change, upheaval and interruptions. If we’ve learned anything for certain this year it’s that nothing in this world is, in fact, certain.
Of course, if you, like me, have a faith in God that is based on His Word and the revelation of His Son Jesus, then you do indeed have some certainties to cling to. We hold fast to the certainty of God’s faithfulness, His love, His omniscience and omnipotence and His imminent return.
But let’s all agree that as we looked at our fresh 2020 calendars this time last year we had no way to see what was ahead. And, as much as we’d all like to think that somehow life will just return to “normal” as we turn the page to January 2021, I think we know better. In fact, now more than ever, we know that we have no idea just where the next year will take us.
With all that said, I’d really like for us to assess 2020 with a little more objectivity right now. We can all look back, shake our heads in disgust and collectively sigh, “that was a tough year.” But let’s also take the time to look back with a little more clarity on the year we’ve been experiencing.
Maybe at this point we just want out. We feel we’ve been there, done that and have the t-shirt to prove it. But I want to take more from this unusual year than a t-shirt.
I want to gather up the loose ends of my unraveled plans, the shards of my disappointments and the fragments of life’s interruptions and piece them together so that I have some treasure to carry out of this season of my life. And I believe that if we’ll compel ourselves to sit down for an hour or so and look back with a little objectivity we can do just that.
I think the easiest way to get some clarity over 2020 is to answer a few questions. We may have to dig deep, but the effort could help us lay more fallow ground for 2021. I don’t know that anyone wants to take the time to sit with every question below. But consider thinking through a few of these or maybe one or two each day as we approach the new year. I have a dozen for you.
- What surprised you about your own reactions to circumstances?
- In what did you find unexpected joy?
- What became less important to you than before?
- What became increasingly valuable to you?
- What did you miss the most?
- What did you gain that you had either lost before or didn’t even know you needed?
- What good habit did you develop that you’ll take with you out of this season?
- What bad habit did you develop that you’ll need to address?
- What new tools or skills did you acquire that you can continue to use?
- What prayers did God answer?
- Where do you see the fingerprints of God, even if you still don’t know exactly what He was or is doing?
- What did you discover to be true and trustworthy?
Today I simply encourage you and me to make sure that we take time to reflect a little on 2020 before we hastily start charting out 2021. And let’s do more than wipe our brow and proclaim it a crazy year. Let’s learn from it. Let’s grow from it.
Let’s take a look in the rearview mirror and look at the past year from a different perspective. Then I think we’ll be able to move into the new year a little wiser, a little more hopeful and with our eyes wide open.
Would you like to share?
If you’d like to share your answer to one of the questions above, I’d love to hear your thoughts today. Thanks so much for dropping in!
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.
7 thoughts on “The Beauty of Reflecting & Clarifying”
I lost my Dad in July but take great comfort, that he was saved when he was 87 years old. He lived to be 90 & was so proud that he was a great great grandfather. I know that without the Lord to lean on during this past year , it would have been much tougher. Praise the Lord as I know how he blesses me everyday of my life & with every breath I take. Thank you for your words of wisdom too.
This is a fantastic exercise and I’m definitely going to sit with these questions. I made the most of this year and didn’t let myself get into the pits, kept things more normal than I would have thought possible. Still, 2021 is going to be a big year for me because, God willing, I’m going to move into a new home. I feel God is nudging me to make some life changes and I’m going to step out in faith. I think you are right, if we keep our focus on Jesus, we see that our lives and our chaos really amount to very little in the overall picture. One day this will all be gone, and Jesus will remain…our lives with Him will remain. This is where I’m deliberately (because it doesn’t really come as naturally as I’d like) pulling my focus back on Him when the “world” starts making a little too much noise. Thank you for these thoughtful questions!!
This year has taught me to never take anything for granted! The little things do become big things when turned over to the Lord. He has helped me and my family to live as normally as possible throughout this process. We have increased our focus on the Lord and His great goodness to us. While it is difficult at times, we still have it easy when compared to other generations.
God is teaching me to be more dependent on Him than any of my circumstances or momentary inconveniences. He is teaching me that He is bigger and greater than any difficulty I may have. I feel closer to Him than ever and love Him more than ever. This world is not my “real” home and while I’m here, my goal is to shine His light in the darkness.
Kay, you are a blessing! Your blog provides practical information and spiritual nourishment to so many. I thank God for you.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Great post today! Recently I have been thinking of my parents and what they endured during WW II. We have not even had a year of this and yet they had 4. When I hear myself complain about not being able to travel I think of my mom who never left the east coast; shortage of paper towels? Try a shortage of sugar or meat! When I pray & reflect on the past 8 months my clarity is the fact that I have not suffered enough to allow me to complain. I live on 2 golf courses so I play 5 times a week. Our weather in SoCal is perfect so we walk, hike and swim. God’s hands are on us everyday and he has blessed us beyond measure in good times and bad.
I loved idea of reflections through answering the 12 questions. It really did help me to focus and appreciate the year 2020. Thanks
The reflection question are certainly thought provoking. I have actually spent more quality prayer time and enjoyed online church. I feel the Lord has used this time to draw me closer to Him and my husband of 62 years. He is 88 years old and had a heart attack during this time and in hospital with no visitors for one week and received 2 stents. His recovery and us being together 24 hours daily has blessed me! We always worked and our quality time together was lacking as he also had a side business. This heart attack was another opening for me to talk to him about God. He is not a believer. We have a very small immediate family as our only child our son died from massive heart attack on his 50th birthday 7 years ago. Thank you for your daily blog and devotional. You are a blessing and inspiration.
Thank you for your invitation to reflect. What a worthwhile endeavor. I’ve already been thinking about this…
Without hesitation, I can say that gathering with God’s people for worship in person has become increasingly valuable to us, and we missed it immensely during the months our church was able only to live-stream. In our day of such lofty technology which brought church live right into our family room, we worshipped truly but somehow incompletely. We are exceedingly grateful to God and to our church leadership and pastors for carrying on worship via live-streaming, and by God’s grace the church never missed a beat. However, now that we’ve reconvened, I see and experience afresh the beauty of the saints singing, praying, worshipping, sitting under Biblical preaching, all together. We greet, smile, laugh, cry, comfort, converse, and share meals together. And we reach out to those who are as yet unable to come.
Worship of God on earth is truly a foretaste of heaven.
May the Lord continue to bless you and your family, dear lady! We all appreciate you!