I love moving into a new year. Much like mornings and Mondays and the chance to start fresh, the switch from one year to the next lets you leave behind the junk and instead hope for better. It’s the start of a new journey—a trip to dates in time you’ve never been before.
I have a friend who has compiled lists for all her potential trips. When she prepares for a trip to the beach, or camping, or to the grandparents, she pulls up the list.
That got me thinking. Maybe before a trip/journey/new life experience, we should make out a list of the things we want to take with us. Not the beach blankets, sunscreen, and snorkel. Other things. Things you can’t pack in a suitcase.
Recently, I realized that it’s to my benefit to have thought through a few things before I march into something new. This epiphany came to me by accident. I team-teach the college and career’s class at my church. The people in the class are great and attentive, but I found that I would leave my Sunday’s of teaching feeling like a failure. Sometimes I could pinpoint it to one particular event. My stuttering through an explanation or asking one of those stupidly obvious questions, but a lot of times, the feeling didn’t have an apparent cause.
And then a few weeks ago, something changed.
Before class, I thought through how I wanted it to go, how I wanted to behave in there, what I had to bring, and I reminded myself that the real teaching comes through the Holy Spirit not through anything “brilliant” I might say. I went in expectantly—not expecting to fail, expecting to learn—to see God at work. And I left class, not feeling successful, but feeling stronger. I’m not sure if that’s the right word. Not stronger in myself, but stronger in life, in God—that spirit of power, and love, and self-discipline at work in me.
So here’s my challenge to you:
As you go into the next thing, whether it’s a new job, new relationship, long trip, new school, or whatever, make a few lists before you go.
Write up all the things you’re going to take with you—the parts of who you are that you want to remember and be true to—your goals, your morals, your ethics, your faith. Write them down and remember them when challenges come your way.
Make a list of what you want to get from your new experience—what do you want to learn? What stories do you want to have? What kind of person do you want to be? Write them down and think of them as you make decisions and move from one thing to the next.
List truths that will not change—that you’re never alone, that God loves you, that people care about you, that you can make a difference, that you have a purpose. Write them down for the hard and lonely times.
And that’s all.
A few lists, a lot of thinking, and you coming at life instead of letting life come at you. Put your lists on cards and carry them, and charge onward, warrior—go in the power, love, and self-discipline that is already yours.