Happy New Year, Friend! I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve! If you didn’t, that’s ok. I spent my evening snuggling up to a migraine…lovely. But that’s life sometimes. Don’t get caught in the thinking trap that how New Year’s Eve or the first few days of the new year went is some indication of how the rest of the year will go. Each day is new. Thank God! 🙂
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”Lamentations 3:22-23
The Importance of Steering
Personally, I am projecting that this year is going to be great. Why?! …because Why Not? What’s the alternative? The alternative is either expecting the worst or expecting neutral. Personally, I am also very fond of neutral. We are human and going to have thoughts and opinions regardless, we might as well steer them toward a direction that we hope to go in. Notice I said “steer” because my thoughts are not naturally “neutral” or “optimistic.”
I have to thank every single person I ever counseled for 20 years for giving me the opportunity to teach mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy on a daily basis. It’s because of God’s word and these tools that I can generally “steer” away from fear and negativity and head closer to contentment and peace. Again, I said “closer to” because it’s just not realistic to be in the center of peace and contentment constantly.
“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.”Proverbs 23 (CEV)
This scripture tells us the importance of thoughts in our life and the “life” that they can bring. If we don’t “guard” or watch over our thoughts and notice them they could be unknowingly depleting us of life and energy as well.
So, now that we know the importance of “guarding” our thoughts and “steering” toward a state of being that we prefer (insert your favorite state of being here _____. Mine are contentment and peace), how does one “find direction in the new year?”
There is no right or wrong process for this. I am just going to share what I do, and you can use it as an idea for yourself if you choose. It is certainly not “right,” it is just something that has worked for me the past couple of years.
Step 1: Year in Review
My migraine was so bad on New Year’s Eve, we didn’t even get to do our family “Year in Review” that I talked about in last week’s blog post. But, no worries, we did it the next day.
Doing the year in review activity helped me get a sense of what I had endured, survived, learned and accomplished the previous year. So it gave me a starting point to locate where I am currently and then see which direction I want to “steer” toward in the year ahead.
Step 2: Spiritual Conversation (Asking God to Guide Your Next Steps)
For the past 2 years while walking Charlie in December (see photo…apologies for the shameless sharing of our dog’s picture to anyone who will look at it. LOL), I began asking God to give me guidance to help continue to grow a stronger connection and relationship with God in the year ahead.
Each day I pray and meditate on this as we walk and then, I shut up. I try to just pay attention. Generally, flashes of the previous year come to mind. It might be things that were good or not so good. It might be what I learned spiritually. It most certainly is often about what I struggled with. The previous two years, and now this year, I have been given incredible insight by spending this time with God. Believe me, my brain isn’t that perceptive, so I know the insight that has come to me is from meditating with God.
Step 3: Pay Attention to Emerging Themes
I won’t get into detailed specifics as it would take forever, and your time is valuable. But the short version is that generally a feeling, a word or yearning will come to mind after a few daily “meditations” on this with God. When this happens, write it down. You can use the notes section of your phone, a notebook/journal or whatever. The insights that come are amazing, but they are often sudden and at times you might not expect them to occur. I have noticed if I don’t write them down, they are gone from my memory because they aren’t generally my typical thoughts.
- In 2020 the word “stillness” came to mind because I was severely burnt out as a counselor. More on that journey later if you are interested.
- In 2021 the theme of me “not knowing” what I am supposed to do in life or for God’s kingdom was on my mind.
- In 2022, I feel a need and a want to be in His word daily and on purpose.
Step 4: Seek Scripture on Those Themes
I am calling myself out here when I say I am not great at knowing scripture by heart. So, I use my old pall google to search to look for scripture that relates to a theme when it shows up. For example, I will Google “scripture having to do with stillness.” I generally land at bibegateway.com. You certainly don’t have to go there but it is reputable and helpful if you are looking for a resource.
As I am reading through scriptures having to do with these themes, generally one will just practically hit me over the head and I am like, “Oh my gosh! Yes! That scripture then sort of becomes my overarching theme for the year ahead.
- In 2020 it was, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
- In 2021 it was, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- This year 2022 it is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Step 5: Touch This Scripture Often
Whatever theme/ scripture emerges for you, have this be a major lighthouse for you throughout the days, weeks and months ahead to give you direction. Whatever theme emerged, it’s probably a big one for you, so it will come up over and over again.
In 2021, for example, I had noticed my struggle with feeling like “I” had to find my own purpose. So over and over again that year, that one scripture was forever guiding me toward trusting that God KNOWS HIS plan for me NOT ME and that that is ok. I worked on trusting in that.
Whenever my thoughts started veering off course and spending excessive amounts of time worrying about this topic or trying to “figure” out my purpose, I went back to this scripture. It brought me immediate peace.
Step 6: Take Action
How does the scripture that emerged for you look in action? In other words, what things would you be doing in everyday life to steer closer to your spiritual goal?
There are many many way these scriptures will play out for you in actions. Here are a few examples:
In 2020, I allowed moments of “stillness” in my mind. I have a tendency to want to “figure everything out.” It is exhausting so when I noticed myself doing that, I allowed my mind to let go of it and be in the stillness. I did a lot of mindfulness to help with this.
In 2021, when I noticed my mind trying to figure out my purpose, I steered my mind to that scripture and instead said out loud, “I don’t have to know and I am probably not even supposed to know.” Saying it out loud was one of my actions.
In 2022, I have a plan to read the Bible every day for 10 minutes and to journal about it in my new Bible. I love the space in the margins it has for writing. Coincidentally, I realized that THE very first page of this new bible, literally has the verse I chose for the year beautifully illustrated. Not kidding, I ordered it after I had already picked out the verse for the year. I swear, it brought me to tears when I saw it. I like to call moments like that a “God wink.”
I plan on underlining things that I want to research, etc. Each day I hope to write out a shareable segment from that reading for my family to grow and learn right along with me.
Why Only Spiritual Direction?
Here’s the gist of what I have witnessed in myself and others I have counseled over the course of life:
Nothing, no (career, hobby, subject, object, person, place, situation, money or body appearance) will ever fill you up the way God will. Believe me…I tried without Him and found that it just led to and endless seeking for the next thing and the next thing. Even when I “met my goals” the fulfillment was very temporary. When you feel connected to God spiritually and put Him first, all the other “goals and resolutions” will be more fulfilling but only through the lens of God.
So, I always recommend that that is where we start, with Him. Of course, you can set career goals, financial goals, relationship goals, health goals, etc. Those are all awesome and healthy! But if you put on your God glasses when you look at those things, they will feel much more rewarding to you.
We are so thankful YOU are here with us! Today, take care of yourself and God bless you and your family!
Shayla, mom and LCPC
Tranquility Moms Team
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