new year – new chances

I love the quote by John Newton:

“I am not what I ought to be,
I am not what I want to be,
but by Gods grace, I am not who I used to be.”

When a new year approaches, it’s a time many of us give thought to making a change. We consider area’s in which we’d like to grow, then set out our goals and plans. Because as the quote implies, we are making progress. If we are not be in the place we want to be, prayerfully, we are moving in that direction.

The book, “Three Little Decisions” may be a useful tool for this time of year. Every day we make a myriad of decisions, about the course of our life, about our health and about relationships. Each chapter in this book allows us an opportunity to make small steps, little decisions that point us in a better direction. This is how we move forward. Step by step.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4:

“How will we ever get a task completed if we wait to start next week or until after the holidays? How often do we suppress difficult matters simply because they are distasteful or uncomfortable? It strikes me, we put off doing something important because it feels too big. Write an overdue letter, reach out after an argument, eat healthier, take a class to progress our career… It’s easy to believe we’re too tired, too busy or too broken to accomplish very much. As a result, projects pile up, as does frustration when those tasks go unfinished What might we accomplish if we stopped waiting and just did it today. Could we take one step in that direction?”

Let’s not wait to make decisions, thinking it will be easier tomorrow. It will not. Instead we can make small decisions today, decisions that will move us the way we want to go.

Pick up the book here:

Decision for Today

When November hits, my mind begins to gear up for the holidays. I find myself thinking about  plans for Thanksgiving, our family Christmas card  and which travel arrangements must be made. It’s easy to jump into a vortex of shopping, planning, decorating and cooking. This November though, I made a point to have a bit of quietude,  and to examine the days God gifted me this past year.

The year began with great plans and hopes, (it’s easy to be determined in January). There were days of success at work, amazing time with family and among friends, but naturally, there were other areas which had become derailed. I bemoaned those failures and uttered the dread words, “Oh well, I can start again in January”.

My bright idea of reviewing the past year was about to send me into a tailspin of negative self-analysis. It is at this point I knew I had a choice to make. To fall into an emotional slump or stand up and try a different approach. Here is a short excerpt from the book, “Three Little Decisions” that helped me choose.

At a morning devotional group, I heard a woman speaker share the words of Jesus, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39.) In reference to this passage of scripture, the typical question is posed: how can we truly love our neighbor if we have so little love for our self? It’s a fair question, but on that day, she added an interesting twist to our struggle with self-love. She said, “Stop bullying yourself about every little thing”!

Her comment caused me to lean forward in my chair, as I considered this fresh perspective to such an endemic thought. I was struck with her admonition to stop the negative talk, stop believing the worst and learn to love the way God loves. With utmost certainty, I know I am not alone in this battle against rampant self-bullying, against those voices in my head saying, “I’m not good enough, thin enough, strong enough or spiritual enough.” 

Our tendency to be self-critical, (to bully ourselves), overshadows our confidence and the damage is impossible to measure as it blows in those evil triplets of self-doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. Overcoming these voices involves a decision to disembark that bully-express and board a different train of thought. 

So, I’m trying a different approach.

What if, instead of believing myself to be a failure, bullying myself with negative comments, or waiting until tomorrow to do better,  I decide to thrive and grow, today? My choice is to be strong today, to do what is right and to do my best. That way, I’ll finish this year stronger by doing better today.  Like the quote, we start today to make a new ending.

Here is my take-away: I am not who I hope to be, but who I decide to be. Today.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. God gave me this one day, I’ll make it great!

It’s my choice.