So, how was your Christmas and New Year’s? Although I hope you got everything on your list (while dodging the dreaded tie or cheap jewelry) and had some down time, I’m not really asking about that. By reflecting on your holiday season, what did you learn about yourself?
For me, it was a mixed bag. I’ll let you in on what I learned and invite you to pause and reflect on your own life. We can learn a lot about ourselves and our relationships with God and others by slowing down and processing a season we tend to go through on autopilot.
A Need For Reflection
I’m going to share 2 simple questions that will help you reflect more, but first I want to mention that God puts a surprising amount of emphasis on reflection. Here are a few quick examples:
- When the prophet Samuel gave his farewell address, he asked the people to ‘fear the Lord and serve him faithfully… for consider what great things he has done for you’ (1 Samuel 12:24). In context, Samuel was asking his fellow Israelites to remember all that God had done for them so that they could turn away from the evils they had committed (v.19).
- When Israel was going through a period where they were working hard, but not getting the results they hoped for, God told them to slow down and ‘consider your ways’ (Haggai 1:5, 7).
- Jesus tells us to ‘consider’ things around us like flowers and birds so that we’ll remember he cares for us (Matthew 6; Luke 12).
These are just a few examples among many. The Lord keeps reminding us to ‘consider’ and ‘remember’ because we tend to become absorbed with what’s in front of us, forget him, and stay stuck in patterns that hurt us and others.
Two Important Questions
So, we want to work toward becoming more thoughtful, reflective people. Here are those two, super-simple questions that will help you process how the holidays went.
1. What went well?
It’s easy to focus on what didn’t go right or where we came up short, but we need to celebrate where God gave us success. I’m thankful for the way our family had some devotional times surrounding Advent, spent lots of time with family and friends, and got away together alone for 3 days in the woods. Those were all intentional choices and real victories for us.
What went well for you? Take some time and give God thanks!
2. What didn’t go so well?
If you’re like me, it’s probably not hard for you to think of areas you could improve. When I paused to think about the year’s end, God pointed out two things. First, I’m not as excited about God as I’d like to be. When we decided to attend two Christmas season services, one of my kids blurted out, ‘Why do we have to go to all these services?!’ As I tried to explain, I had to admit that secretly I was feeling the same way because I’m still not as captivated by Jesus as I should be.
Second, I saw my selfishness at a deeper level. Christmas is ultimately about giving – of our time, resources and our very selves – in celebration of The Greatest Gift we’ve received. Jesus. And yet, there were many times I didn’t really want to give. Helping wrap presents, come up with gift ideas for our kids, or, just being present at family gatherings sometimes felt more like a duty than a joy.
What does your holiday season reveal about you?
The great news is that even the bad news is a gift. God reveals our weaknesses and sins not to beat us up, but to make us whole. Slowing down long enough to take a look back helps us move forward with joy.
What went well, and not so well, during this past Christmas season for you? Share your takeaways with us in the comments below!