Years ago, at a Christmas gathering, I was asked a question I’d never been asked before . . . “What do you enjoy about Christmas that no one else knows about?”
My answer was weird, but I couldn’t lie.
“I enjoy reflecting.”
As the end of the year approaches and Christmas softens my heart, I find myself thinking about the year I just lived. Here are a few of my questions . . .
- What am I grateful for?
- What did I learn this year?
- Where did I go? What did I experience?
- Who do I know better today than I did a year ago?
- If I died tonight, who would carry my casket? Would those six men know me . . . really, really know me?
- Am I closer to God today than I was at this time last year?
- What is my vision for next year? Who are those six friends whom I will let into my life next year?
- Am I open to God’s will for my life, even if He takes me in a radically different direction? Even if he takes me out of my comfort zone?
My reflecting usually happens early in the morning as the run-up to Christmas happens. I don’t want to wait until after Christmas; I’m too prone to be lonely and blue then. I want to allow the Spirit to speak to me when I’m soft and grateful . . . full of love and warmth . . . when my family is around and life is rich with relationships and conversation. A few things I do . . .
- I’ll check my gratitude list and refresh it.
- I’ll turn back through my journal, looking for entries where something significant registered from God’s word . . . or a sermon I heard . . . or a book I read. I’ll pick the highlights for my “What I learned this year” notes.
- I’ll go back through my calendar, just to remember the places I went, the things I accomplished, and the people I encountered. I’ll dwell on the significant people in my life one-by-one . . . how they’ve affected my life this year and (maybe) how I’ve affected theirs. I’ll think back on events I participated in with my family, friends, and grandkids. I pull out my kudos file and reread thank you notes and letters I’ve received.
- I’ll ask God to help me press meaning into these things, “What did you teach me, Lord? What do I still need to learn”?
- And I’ll ask Him to give me a vision for next year . . . right now . . . while this year is fresh and still front and center.
And because it’s Christmas, my entire time of reflection will be filled with the warmth of His love . . . gratitude for His birth and for His gracious reach into my life to save me and turn me around. Everything else I’ll reflect on comes through that lens of gratitude . . . of knowing that God loved me so much that He pursued me. He let me wiggle and wrangle and struggle until I cried out for Him. When I surrendered, He loved me enough to forgive me for the duel-mindedness, deception, selfishness, and sin that defined my life for so long. He made it clear that He was real by answering prayers, showing up in amazing ways, both big and small. He spoke to me as I began to read His Bible, and He let me know He loved me through people who came alongside me, mentored me, and helped me grow. For 36 years now, I’ve been blessed with peace in this life like no one outside the faith can ever understand. And I’ve been given confidence that there is a life after this one, and that I’m going to spend it with Him when my time comes.
Reflect this Christmas. You’ll be glad you did.
Challenge: Take some time during (not after) this Christmas season to reflect.