No, I’m not dead.
*big sigh of relief (or disappointment)*
I just stepped away from the blog for a few weeks over the holiday, and honestly, it was nice to escape the pressure. I’m back now, and looking forward to your readership in 2018.
It’s funny…when people ask me how my 2017 went, I’ve found that my usual reaction is to fall back on the typical “oh man it was horrible, toss that one in the bin and bring in 2018!” that we all cynically throw around for a laugh. Or some version of that.
But then I stopped and realized…my 2017 was actually rather terrific.
…is it okay to say that?
It feels disruptive. Some folks had a pretty good year but are still grousing. Others really did have a painful, harrowing year for various reasons. Whatever the case, me actually celebrating the year feels like bursting through people’s walls with all the subtlety of Mr. Kool-Aid. I’m kinda tentative about it.
But I must. Because God was good.
I went on a long-anticipated overnight backcountry trip with my buddy and conquered a ton of ground.
I witnessed a total solar eclipse.
I successfully entrenched a habit of running regularly.
I experienced enough of God’s generosity to pay back my debts(!). Not that I had nearly the amount that some do, but the freedom is amazing.
I found out that mole isn’t cancerous.
A ton of little gifts, reliefs, and steps towards larger life goals.
But while all of these victories gifts are “from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), they aren’t really the important question. The only goal that matters is this: Did I become a better person in 2017?
That’s a tough one.
I certainly came to a number of epiphanies in 2017.
I got new revelations of how self-focused I can be, and how it leaks into my conversations.
And new reminders of just how powerful (and hurtful) my words can be.
And how easily I slip into a judgmental attitude towards others.
And how I’m allowing my past to form more of my personal identity than God does.
And how quickly I lose the joy of seeing God come through and slip into “but what about this time?” thinking.
And how seldom I truly live “rooted and established in love” (Eph. 3:17).
I am a wreck.
But I suppose diagnosing the problem is a good first step. How wonderful to know that any criticism God does of us (and he is entitled to do as much as he likes) is couched in Ephesians 3:17, in the love enabled through Christ’s sacrifice.
I also appreciate the pattern Christ shows in Revelation 2-3, when he both points out our good deeds and our bad. He affirmed my progress just this last week in a number of ways. I won’t boast about them here, but suffice it to say, it made my week. And inspired me to honor him even more.
All that truly matters against eternity is whether we become more like Christ. Everything else is icing.
What about you? Did you become more like him last year?