Bringing in a New Year always causes me to reflect. Where have I been? Where am I going? What matters most right now? The right question propels you forward in powerful way. I’ve also learned that the wrong question spirals you downward fast. For example, one of the questions I used to always ask when life got hard was “Why me?” or “Why this?” But I’ve learned the “why” question never brought me any real answers or comfort… it led me to a dark place and depressed mood.
The great Scottish writer “George McDonald listed what he called three grand essentials—three things without which no meaningful life can be lived: They are someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
Here are some reflection questions that can move you to a new life story in the New Year.
Self-Reflection Question #1 – Do you have someone to Love?
Everyone I know is looking for love, but we’re looking in the wrong place. Instead of loving God, our very source of life and goodness, we love lesser things, things that harm our relationship with God and others. For example, we love our way (James 4:1-4), we love being right, we love being first (Matthew 23). We love the world (1 John 2:15), we love money (Hebrews 13:5, Luke 16:14), we love the praise of humankind (John 12:43), we love sin (John 3:19), and we love positions of status and authority (Matthew 23:6,7; Luke 11:43). God warns you about your other loves. He calls them idols. God is jealous of your other loves. When you love things or other people (including yourself) more than God, you lose out on intimacy with him. He calls it spiritual adultery and it breaks his heart (Ezekiel 6:9).
Jesus warns you that who or what you love is crucial to your well- being because he knows what controls your heart, controls you( Matthew 6:21). What you love orders your priorities, determines how you invest your resources of time, money, energy and talents and guides you to know what’s worth living for and dying for.
God says what matters most, what’s most worthy of your fullest love, greatest attention and deepest devotion. Knowing and loving him. You do have someone to love. When you love God first, you will have a meaningful life.
Self-Reflection Question #2 – Do you have something to do?
I used to think what I was supposed to do had to be big and bold in order to matter. Anna was a multi-talented woman raising small children who often felt like she was wandering in circles. She said, “Leslie, I have no real goals. I try to get through the chores and tasks of each day, taking care of kids, homework and household responsibilities. But there’s no time for anything significant or meaningful.”
I asked her if she were to die next week, would she have regrets? She thought for a moment and then said, “I’d regret that I didn’t enjoy today. I’m always rushing through everything I do so I can get to more important things.” When I asked Anna to name her most important things. She thought for a moment and said, “Spending more meaningful time with my family like riding bikes, having a picnic and enjoying a walk. But I’m always too busy doing everything else.”
Anna may need more balance and recreation in her life but she has lost sight of the important work she is doing. I asked her, what is the difference between savoring the time with your kids while riding bikes and feeling hassled with the kids while during homework?” With a flash of insight she said, “My attitude! Maybe what I’m doing is important and significant all the time, I just didn’t see it before.” Oswald Chambers reminds us that “it is not the work you do for God that keeps you fresh; it is the work you allow God to do through you.”
Paul says you are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do” (Ephesians 2:10). You do have important work to do. Reflect Jesus in all you do and you will have a meaningful life.
Self-Reflection Question #3 – Do you have something to hope for?
Everyone needs to put their hope in something. Just like we can love the wrong things and invest our lives in pursuits that won’t matter, we can put our hope in things that have no real substance. That lead to disappointment and heartache.
Jesus warns us life is hard. Even while on earth we get tastes of hell. The hope that sustains while in hell on earth is hope. Hope that God is still good. Hope that God knows what he’s doing even if we don’t understand. (Nahum 1:7; Psalm 119:68). Hope that God cares about our suffering. He knows every tear we cry and that none of it is wasted because he will bring good out of it (Psalm 56:8; Romans 8:28,29). Hope that someday we will be with him in heaven where there will be no more tears or suffering (John 14:2).
While suffering Paul expressed hope in the eternal reality when he said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Therefore, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
While feeling discouraged, David reflected and asked himself, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” His answer? “Put your hope in God” (Not in what God will do. Psalm 42:5). Right now, friend, you can have hope. Trust God.
I want a meaningful 2023. Don’t you?
PS: We still have a few spots left in our six month group coaching program Empowered to Change. It starts the week of January 9th. If you need help asking yourself some new questions so that you can begin to write a new chapter to your life story, click here.