For me, January has always been a month that yields high motivation. It’s a month of resolution and a time most of us expect renewal, or dare I say, rebirth, in some of our rather detrimental habits. I must confess that these past few years, however, have produced a ritual that isn’t the most glorious to review.
Usually, December 30th starts out much in the same way: I find myself gathering all of my favorite foods at a grocery store for a celebratory “last supper” of all the things that are considered unhealthy, and then I choose to stay up way too late watching cheesy romantic Christmas movies while mastering the art of ignoring my open yoga mat and giant laundry-monster-pile that continues to procreate without my consent.
Then December 31st rolls around…and I somehow manage to repeat this exact day. Only this time instead of watching movies, I lay out plans, goals, and expectations for the coming year, as if the duty of doing so drives home the need for my resolutions to start even stronger.
And then January 1st comes — my plans are intact and I’m ready to go.
Only this year, I woke up very early and started the day with my Bible instead of my to-do list. I read my plan, stretched and got in the shower. I relayed my daily list of to dos and started to pray and invite God into the conversation. As I listed my requests and started to pray for my loved ones, I was interrupted:
“Let everything you do be not out of duty, like a slave to its master, but out of devotion through the immeasurable love I have for you.”
I contemplated this impression for the rest of the afternoon.
Later that evening I realized my entire list of plans, goals and expectations were not written from a place of love, but out of duty. I desired so greatly to be a better version of myself — a better daughter, a better mother, a better fill-in-the-blank — that it didn’t occur to me that maybe God had a different method of helping me reach my goals.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:14-18, NIV)
The unshakeable, unchangeable, unconditional love that God has for us is the place where all things start. Not by duty, like a slave to our resolutions of what we are to achieve in the next year, but from devotion to our relationship with our Father God; that’s how we will experience the breakthrough of our “better self” and receive the depth of fulfillment we are so desperately seeking.
I have since let go of my list and choose to wake up to the devoted discipline of sitting with my Father and simply saying, “What will you have for me today?” By exclusively focusing on HIS next steps and surrendering to him, I know that I will “run the race” faithfully and experience the breakthrough I so desperately crave. It takes discipline to run his race though, and even more devotion to finish it…which is why it has to start with him.
Journal / Reflection Questions
- Who creates your list of priorities and goals – you or God?
- Spend some time praying and listening to the priorities and goals GOD has for you. Write at least one impression down and pray about it this entire month. At the end of the month, reflect on what God revealed to you!
Esther “Annie” Rhoades is a mom to three, wild and free kids and has been happily married to her best friend, Jon, for over 10 years. Annie values experience over things and loves yoga with worship music, diving into the word, hosting, thrifting, making healthy goodies, and traveling.