I used to be a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, so much so that I took any new beginning — a new semester, a new job, a move — as an opportunity to set goals. I’d sit down with my journal and prayerfully survey the terrain of my life. What did I hope to accomplish in the next six months or a year? What new habits would be healthy for that season of life? How did I feel that God was inviting me to use the precious days he had given me? I’d make a list and allow those dreams to shape me and my life. It was a fruitful and life-giving exercise, one that focused me and drew me into the presence of the God who numbers each of our days.
Then, a couple of years ago, I took a retreat in another season of beginnings. I went excited for the time away, eagerly anticipating the familiar process of goal-setting with Jesus and ready for the new resolutions that would shape the coming year. And God said to me, quite clearly, as I meandered my way through the labyrinth on the retreat center grounds: “Sara, this is not a year for setting goals.” I was shocked. What on earth was I supposed to do without any goals to achieve?
I have been learning slowly how to answer this question, and I hope to share some of that process as I continue to write for The Well’s blog. What I will say now is this: God knew (and knows) me so well. He knew that my goals, as good as they were, were the next thing I needed to surrender in order to love him more fully. Tenderly, God was inviting me to a deeper life in him.
The New Year is still fresh and full of hope. I’d like to make some resolutions, but I’ve found that this path, once so straight and full of light, now leads me into a dark and miry bog. Instead, Jesus welcomes me to meander with him around the labyrinth. We seem to be going in circles, and at times I feel like we are wandering without much purpose. But we are held in the heart of God, and I am loved by the One who reminds me that the things my heart most desires cannot be achieved through efforts fed by any resolution, but ultimately only received as a gift.