10 to the End: Day 2 Learn and Let Go.

For many of us who seek to be in control of every aspect of our lives, acknowledging our shortcomings either comes with immense guilt and shame, or we don’t acknowledge them at all. We’re either beating ourselves up for allowing ourselves space and opportunity to make such mistakes, or we’re refusing to address a shortcoming at all hoping we can just forget it and move on. Neither is a very healthy way to deal with disappointment or failure.

If you’ve had a year like mine, maybe you may have set some goals for yourself and fallen short of where you imagined you’d by at this point in the year. Whether this was a career expectation, a vision for your personal life, or just simply a goal to be a different kind of person by now. The first thing we should do is to acknowledge that. It is obedient for us to acknowledge our shortcomings. Even if there were other factors that lead to you being thrown off course, you can only take responsibility for your piece of that puzzle. If you could have been more diligent, if you shouldn’t have revisited a door that God already previously closed, if you just simply lost sight of the goal altogether, we can use that as our starting point.

Once we’ve identified the places in our lives where we could improve, before you decide to gather the broken pieces and attempt to move on, it’s important to take into consideration that these shortcomings will not be your demise. As long as you desire to be in God’s will, God is able and willing to use those very mistakes to continue elevating you to exactly the place you were intended to be in the first place. If you recall in a previous devotion Chasing After You, we discussed and rejoiced in the fact that God is not surprised by our ability to fall of course. In fact, God already anticipated that and already set a plan in motion to chase you down and redirect you.

Psalms 119: 71 says, “It was good for me to be humbled so that I could learn your justifications.”

Although we strive each day not to make decisions that are not good for us and our journey with Christ, we must also acknowledge the lessons we are able to learn from our mistakes. It is true that some of the lessons we learn through our mistakes could have been avoided, but let’s not spend the time we could be using to gather lessons, on wishing that things were different. What is done is done and God is still who God always is; and that is a God who is capable of taking our wrongs and using them to elevate us and to glorify God.

Picking up the Pieces Exercise

Before moving on, let’s spend time reminding ourselves of what God is capable of doing with our mistakes with a short exercise.

  1. When you think of the words “failure” or “Shortcoming” what comes to mind for you this year? Write them down without censoring yourself.
  2. What were some of the repercussions of those failures or shortcomings? Write those down.
  3. Try to think of some of the lessons you can recover from these instances. What do you believe you should have learned from making these mistakes. Write those down on a seperate piece of paper. (Some of these lessons may not be evident to you at the moment and that is ok. God will reveal them in time).
  4. Isaiah 43:25 says “I, yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and never think of them again.” God doesn’t hold our failures over our heads which is our permission to release the guilt and shame from our lives as well. This could be a long process but as a symbol that we recognize we don’t have to live victimized by our mistakes,  find a way to destroy the paper listing your failures or shortcomings from this year. Try tearing the paper, burnin the paper etc. Anything that makes it impossible for you to revisit on paper.
  5. Display the paper listing the lessons you should have learned from your mistakes somewhere visible to you. You don’t need to make these public. Truly make an effort to remind yourself of the lessons and NOT the failures.
  6. Pray a prayer for forgiveness from God and for yourself. Invite forgiveness into your own heart so that you can continue living and working toward your goals without crippling regret.
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10 to the End Day 1: Gratitude

Gratitude

As the year comes to a close, it is every Type A person’s instinct is to begin planning for what’s to come. Many of us have already began planning since the 4th quarter of 2017 began. We have big plans and small plans and back up plans and everything in between. Some of us had a great year, others of us are barely hanging on and are seemingly being dragged into the next season. But no matter what kind of year you’ve had, no matter what kinds of plans you have for the next, one thing we cannot forget to do is to reflect.

Reflection, for me, begins with gratitude and celebration. It is so easy, as people who desire control to put our blinders on and always be looking for what’s next. We often overlook what has already happened to rush toward what’s to come. But if we are seeking to be obedient, it’s imperative that we spend time during our preparation for what’s next to fully close this chapter being thankful for something.

This is especially important for those of us who have had a rough year. Maybe this year was supposed to turn out totally differently but it all just fell apart and you could barely hold it together.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”

Therefore, in obedience, we should spend time in our preparation for what’s next to thank God for something. ANYTHING. From your biggest wins, to the fact that you are still breathing and have a chance to recover after your greatest failure. We cannot fully prepare for what’s to come if we have not, first acknowledged God’s faithfulness to us in what has passed.

Philippians 4:12-13 is a great reminder to be grateful. It says,

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”

Whatever it is you were able to accomplish this year, it was through the strength given to you. Whatever hardships you had to endure this year, you made it out because of the faithfulness of God. There is always something to be grateful for. So before you lift your pen to write your goals, before you place your fingers on your keyboard to plan out all of next year’s accomplishments, before you listen to your favorite moguls advice for how to make next year your year, take some time to tell God thank you. If you’re looking for further biblical inspiration for gratitude, check out this list from echurch that includes 20 bible verses on gratitude and thanksgiving.

Gratitude Activity:

  1. Make a list of everything you’ve been through this year that was important. Don’t worry about whether it was good or bad. Just write down anything that comes to mind that stood out to you this year.
  2. Go through the list and write at least 1 thing you can be grateful for in each of those instances.
  3. Pause and say a prayer of gratitude that includes each thing on the list. Make sure this is a prayer that doesn’t make any requests. This is strictly a thank you. Spend time meditating on what you’re thanking God for so that you can really inspire the feelings of gratitude to match your prayer.
  4. Post your gratitude list somewhere visible (to you. Doesn’t have to be made public) as a reminder to yourself to remain grateful. Add things periodically as you remember them.