Every time a New Year begins, I get enthusiastic about starting over. I love the idea of planting new dreams and discovering new things. I love to set an expectation for all that can be and all that I hope will be. The hard part about all this is that setting those expectations sounds good at the beginning, but then slowly, the reality of actually creating them becomes the thorn in the flesh. That’s where I have to face the truth of me. Will I really keep my gym membership after two months have passed, or will I start to sluff off once March comes, giving myself all kinds of reasons for no longer needing to keep that goal? Yes, setting expectations can be helpful, even wise, but how can we also set them in a way that by the time this year ends, we can be pleased with the result?
For some of us, whether we write regularly, want to lose weight, want to find a partner, or want to invest in the future in a new way, setting the bar to achieve the goal is a good thing. The trouble comes when we create the plan and then disappoint ourselves. Sometimes the worst critics in our lives are the constant companions who live in our heads ready to remind us of our poor choices, our moments of failure. Perhaps there is some wisdom in getting a bit older because for me, expectations are finally being set with forgiveness. Forgiveness for those poor choices, those odd decisions, those moments when the people in my normal sphere of influence are shaking their heads and wondering what I could possibly be thinking…expectation and forgiveness just have to walk closely together.
Whatever your goals might be for this year, build in some flexibility, some opportunity to receive new information, some forgiveness for letting go of a plan here or there that didn’t serve you, whether it was for great reasons or no reason. It seems to me that the more we learn to be forgiving to ourselves, to allow our expectations to change and our opportunities to be more fluid, the more we’re able to accept those very things in others. Our need for those around us to perform to our standards changes and we can humbly appreciate them and lovingly accept them just as they are.
So…let’s set some goals, strive to achieve them and then give ourselves the flexibility to let God intervene in His own way, revise our plans and forgive our foibles. As we remember how much He does that for us, we’ll also remember to do that for ourselves and those we love. It’s a New Year, a new chance to let go of those things that aren’t worth hanging on to and discovering those things that keep us looking up. Let’s turn down our self-critics! Let’s build up new hope. Let’s expect God’s best! If we do, we’ll surely enjoy a great new year!