What next? / New year, new opportunities

Just a few hours ago, we found ourselves sitting at the airport in Budapest, with some time to spare before we departed for home. While Zack and Daniel explored shops and walked around, William and I talked about setting goals for 2015. Lots of things were discussed, including reading the Bible more, social goals (cross-cultural living can often make you a bit less social), family time, and improving areas of our lives.

What is it about the changing of the calendar that gives us the feeling of wanting to and even the motivation that we need to change, or refocus, to start something new, or to put something behind us? As we say goodbye to one year and hello to another, why is it that most people take time to evaluate and reflect?

Now don’t get me wrong. I do like the idea of looking at a new year as a blank page filled with opportunity and promise. There are definitely things I want to focus on and things I need to set aside.

But the reality is I want – and need – to do this every day. Each day is filled with opportunity. Each time I wake, I am given the chance to choose.

I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. (Psalms 3:5 HCSB)
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:23 NLT)
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (Psalms 42:8 NLT)

So for 2015, I choose to approach each day in search of opportunities to show kindness, to put love into action, to be an encouragement, to learn from my mistakes, to use wisely what I’ve been given, and to be open about my struggles.

The last few months have especially revealed to me the importance of that last item. I have always been quick to share when things are going well. But when I open up about what I’m struggling with, it leaves me vulnerable. However, I’m learning that my vulnerability is minuscule in comparison to what else can happen.

My openness often allows others to know they are not alone. We joke that misery loves company, but I think it is so valuable to know you are not alone in your valley, and to have someone to walk along with. And almost without fail, people who have previously faced similar experiences will share and encourage me.
Opening up also shows that life isn’t always sunshine and roses. Sometimes it helps others understand the not-so-glamorous side of living outside of your passport country – and maybe gives them some insight into what other friends might be dealing with.
And this openness gives me the opportunity to share my faith, and God the opportunity to demonstrate His goodness to a broader audience, whether it be through the removal of the challenge, or through the way He sustains me in spite of the challenge. I want to be open to God using me to demonstrate who He is, regardless of how He chooses to do so.I also have a couple of concrete goals I want to focus on, but I believe they will contribute to these goals and this new frame of mind for the new year.

Do you like to set goals or make resolutions as you enter a new year? Are there things you will be trying in 2015? Habits you will try to leave behind in 2014? How will you approach this new year and these new opportunities?

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