Last year, I skipped it. We had just taken the first step in what would prove to be a year long journey of pain, healing, brokenness, growth, and heartache. I felt so lost in life at that point last year that I couldn’t bring myself to look back too much or forward too far. In fact, it felt impossible.
Now, a year later, I’m still broken and still healing in many ways, but I’m also feeling a new strength. A deep and quiet strength. A firm bottom under all the unknown. Or perhaps, what I am really feeling is a firmer faith in the Strength Who was there all along.
So this year, even though in some ways life feels just as uncertain as it did a year ago, I’m going back to the habits of reflection, intention, and hope.
For several years now I've been using Lara Casey's method of reflection, evaluation and goal setting. Each year, in blog post format, she has tenderly guided me through this challenging process, this deep work in my heart and soul.
It’s not easy or fun, this reflecting. This looking back and evaluating. This digging deep and getting really, truly honest with myself and with God.
I know that for my looking back to truly guide my moving forward to growth, I must wipe away of all the little pretenses I set up around my own heart so that I can see clearly who I am and the habits that shape me.
This process of reflection and evaluation can be quite painful if it is not surrounded in immense amounts of gospel truth. God's truth. Even then, it can feel hard. And vulnerable. And uncomfortable. And too much. And discouraging. And shameful. And not worth it. And...painful.
But I have seen the value in it in my life and soul.
So I can detach myself from the painful emotions connected to looking back in honesty, because I am held by a God Who loves me fully, although He knows me fully. I can step back and ask God to show me what He sees in me, the good and the bad, then in humility I can ask Him to show me how to walk forward in righteousness and faithfulness.
This week I'm slowly going over the past and present to evaluate and pray and reflect. Soon I'll start the planning and dreaming and praying for the future. Seeking to uncover what God is guiding me toward. What He is calling me to.
I wouldn't have done this on my own. I'm too impatient to look back. Too prone to questioning myself and obsessing over the past and it's mistakes to reflect.
So I'm incredibly thankful for those who have forged a path before me. Those who have wrestled out the truths and patterns and methods that produce to healthy introspection and reflection, planning and intending.
If you need a gentle, grace-filled push to spend the time and do the work of reflection and planning, join me. I'm writing these steps and my own answers out in that same journal. Well, a fresh one, intended for the same purpose as before: to make note and take note of when He speaks to me, so that I won't forget.