The holidays are behind us, and the year is new. Hopes and dreams for 2017 have faded, yet 2018 is before us. What can you do to make room for God’s best, making this the best year of your life?
You may remember that I like to take the last two or three weeks of each year to purposely slow down. I look back at my year and the goals I set. I make some harsh determinations: did I hit the goal or not. After answering bluntly, I look deeper to see the reasons behind the results.
- How well did I plan?
- Did I follow the plan I’d set out, or did I allow apathy or laziness to overtake me?
- Was I surprised by something unexpected that got in my way, slowed me down, or changed my path?
- Did I do all I thought God wanted me to do this year?
After I complete this, I look forward to the new year, setting new goals based on what I accomplished last year and what I think God wants me to do in the months ahead. And this always includes a long look at what I’m currently doing and if it has a place in my new year.
Sometimes, this is harder than others, as my friend and author Jocelyn Green shares below.
Pulling Out the Unnecessary, by Jocelyn Green
Near the end of the summer, I spent a few hours pulling weeds from my gardens. Most of what I yanked out was some strange, creepy crawly invasive species I’ve not officially identified. There was also some crabgrass, some other grass, dandelions, random corn stalks (yes, I live in Iowa), and baby trees who thought they’d give it a go just wherever.
But there was also this flower. A really pretty, cheerful black-eyed Susan. The trouble with her was, I’d already stripped that flower bed of her kind, having decided those plants were unpredictable and patchy in how they spread. I wanted to try something new there this year, something with a tidy growth habit and more structure. It’s a small garden plot, and it’s doing well now with a back row of tall, dynamic ornamental grass, and in the front, three salvia plumosas arranged in a wedge.
That lone black-eyed Susan, pretty though she was, didn’t belong. If I let her stay, she would multiply and take over the plot again. So I dug her up by the roots and tossed her, because listen: in life and in gardens, a weed is anything that’s growing where you don’t want it to. Even good things can crowd out the best things.
Make Room, Weed an Overcrowded Life
In case you struggle with an overcrowded life right now, here’s your official permission to weed it. Recognize your limits, including time, energy, and money constraints. And don’t be afraid to set limits where they will most benefit your ability to pursue your God-given purpose. That means pulling out whatever threatens to overwhelm your schedule. Sometimes—lots of times—that means choosing the BEST over the good.
This is something I hammer home in my new book Free to Lean: Making Peace with Your Lopsided Life. It is not a sin to know and communicate our limits. It’s good stewardship.
Can you think of a time you had to pull out the good to make room for the best? What was the result?
Carrie’s Thoughts about Jocelyn’s Words
Let’s be honest: a life with less sounds great—until you actually sit down and take a look at what to cut out. Some things get slashed easily, like the shirt that’s stained or the committee you hate being part of.
But other things in our life are just like that black-eyed Susan: Beautiful, even good. But not part of our best.
I get it. Some things I’ve cut from my life were heart-wrenchingly hard! This past fall, I prayed over two ministry opportunities that lay close to my heart, but I wasn’t sure they aligned with what God wanted me to do for the next year. Tough choices. Big decisions.
But, when I find the courage to pull those good things out of my life so that all I’m left with is God’s best—I’m happier. I’m a better wife/mom/friend, and I’m more successful in those assignments God truly wants me to focus on.
What do you need to cut?
Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books, including fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives through her Faith Deployed books and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she co-authored with best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War novels, inspired by real heroines on America’s home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.
Do you feel like you have a lopsided life? Good. You’re normal! Instead of constantly trying to “fix” our lives by achieving some perfect balance that doesn’t exist, let’s dump the guilt and admit that we need to lean into God. His perfect plan for us includes seasons of life when we may be more focused on caring for our children or our elderly parents, working for pay, or volunteering at church. Free to Lean gives you permission to recognize the season you’re in and live in harmony with it.
For more about Free to Lean on Jocelyn’s website, click here.
Or, read my review by clicking here.