by Emily Conrad
This New Year’s was different than others for me. Better.
You see, I’ve been known to drop into a funk at this time of year and/or around my birthday because those events tend to prompt the realization that time is passing, and that I only have so much of it.
That’s not bad in and of itself, but after that, my thoughts have been known to go awry.
The overachiever perfectionist in me starts thinking that if I only get one chance at life, I want to rock it. I start tallying achievements, especially those that are rare and widely-visible in my circle of influence, as markers of success. I count things like promotions, recognition, money, and realized goals as reassurances that I’m on the right track.
In short, I succumb to this flashy idea of what a life should be and what makes my days worthwhile and significant.
Some years, my emotions come out the other side of the tally bolstered, but the comfort achievements offer is fleeting because I don’t always have significant successes to point to.
But God’s been working on me, and this year was different.
The Bible is full of what God wants for our lives. Since I’m studying 1 Thessalonians, I’ll focus there. In the text, Paul includes a couple of lists for the people to aspire to and work toward:
Aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your own hands (From 1 Thessalonians 4:11, NET).
Admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all. See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18, NET, emphasis mine)
God’s will for us isn’t that we get caught up chasing the next big achievement. In His eyes, the significant elements of a life aren’t the flashy and public elements that are likely to capture the world’s attention.
What God counts as worthwhile is much quieter. The most valuable things we can do with our lives are to love God and love people. Often, that’s done in quotidian moments of faithfulness that defy my old tally system.
He may have placed a big calling in my heart or yours. He may have big plans for my books, or He may have a small audience for them. Same for you and your dreams.
Either way, if there’s heavy lifting and big achievements on the horizon, those belong to God. We have no business tallying successes as though we brought them to pass by our own might and all-around-awesomeness. Because trust me, I’ve tried making things happen that way, and I’ve learned the only one mighty and all-around-awesome enough to accomplish anything is Jesus.
My significance can’t come from accomplishments, because without Jesus, I can accomplish nothing.
Significance comes from Jesus, who is able to pack our lives with meaning and purpose we can find nowhere else.
With Him, each and every time a birthday or new year rolls around, we don’t have to wrestle with achievement-based anxiety.
Instead, no matter what’s happened (or hasn’t happened) we can celebrate, saying,
This is the day the Lord has brought about.
We will be happy and rejoice in it. (Psalm 118:24, NET)
So with that…
Happy New Year! I can’t wait to see what God has in store.
PS – The winners of last week’s giveaway are Lila and Amber. Congrats, ladies!
PPS – One thing God seems to have in store this year is a new blogging opportunity! I’ve been invited to contribute once each month to the writing blog Seriously Write. The first one will go live on 2/5, and yes, I’ll remind you about that here. These posts will be specifically geared toward writers. If that’s you, I hope to see you over there!
Enjoy this blog? I’d love to have you subscribe by email here!