Earlier this year I shared some thoughts on my goals for 2015. I committed to pouring more energy and time into four areas: Reading. Writing. Creating. Relating. (You can read about them here.) Being the results-oriented, performance-driven person that I am, I have been feeling like this year has been a huge BUST nine months into the year! However, as I’ve been reflecting and praying through this, I’m not so sure my initial assessment is accurate. These four words definitely have not taken shape the way I initially envisioned! This report card of progress definitely left me feeling deflated and defeated at first. I’ll let you in on my self-evaluation…
READ — I expected to get through more of the books stacked up in my Kindle library and sitting in the basket by my chair and on my bedside table. And I have read, of course, it’s like breathing most days for me. I need my daily book “fix”. And although I have not made much of a dent in my Kindle library, I have taken the time to turn the TV off and set aside time to read more fiction. I’ve been more intentional about creating space and time to read.
WRITE — Another initial FAILURE in my mind when I first assessed my progress with this word goal for the year! I purchased this Writing Journal —300 Writing Prompts. It’s beautiful. I love the color and the feel of the paper. It soaks up the ink so lovely. I love how each page prompts you with a topic on which to write that day. Guess how many of the 300 writing prompts I’ve completed? One. Yes, you read that correctly. One. Another expectation with disappointing results. And then there is this blog —well if you follow the blog, you know full well there have been very few posts in the last eight months. And no, I have not been working on the next great novel or even a new Bible study. But…I have done some writing, just not what my initial expectations tallied. What I have discovered is that God has been preparing my heart and mind to clearly refine and define what He would have me write about —as well as the audience to whom He would have me write. The Lord has begun to give me some real clarity and direction. And as for that beautiful writing journal, I’ve still got four months, right?…or next year.
CREATE — I will say that I have tackled and completed some of the projects that had been awaiting my attention for far too long, but again not as many as I originally envisioned in early January. But the Lord has given me some new opportunities and challenges to create in my job, which I am loving. I’ve realized instead of tallying the projects, I need to enjoy the process.
RELATE —As an introvert, this was definitely an area I wanted to pour time and energy into, but being an introvert, knew it would be challenging. Relating does drain my energy. I have to take time to be still. I need my alone time to decompress and refuel. But I have loved the journey of relating more. The Lord has brought some amazing people into my life this year. Their stories and my interaction with them have given way to new ideas and creative expression that has yet to find their way to the page but will. Their stories have shaped my heart and enriched my life in so many ways. I am so grateful for those who are teaching me to love…better. And to those women who are seeking to live bravely in the midst of extreme difficulty and pain. Women who are finding beauty in the brokenness and reason to give thanks in all circumstances.
I realized that I have been more intentional about these four areas of my life than I initially thought. And that intentionality has brought about greater definition and clarity. It has also served to remind me that things are not always as they seem at first glance and that my expectations can disappoint if I place too great an emphasis on them. After all, these were four words the Lord placed on my heart. Instead of charting my own course, I need to pay closer attention to what He is doing in and around me in these areas. These words still ignite a spark in my heart. They have helped me to create margin and space in my life that might not have been there otherwise. They have prompted me to pause and reevaluate my choices.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. —Proverbs 19:21
So what about you? Do you have some goals and plans that have fallen short of your expectations? Take another look. Perhaps like me, you’ve been too focused on the results instead of enjoying the process. I encourage you to take some time to look beyond and see how God is working in unexpected and quiet ways.