It’s that time of year again. Do you have a list of resolutions you plan to embark on? Do you have to start on January 1 for them to count? Or could you start the 2nd because it is a Monday…but what if you have Monday off to observe the holiday and so the year “really” starts on Tuesday, January 3rd? Is your list filled with things like lose weight, save more money, read more books, spend time with the kids or quit smoking? What should our focus be in 2017? What is God calling us to do in this new year?
I will admit something to you. I am a planner girl. I mean a paper and colored pens and stickers kind of planner girl. Sometimes, I do things and then write them down in my planner so that I can cross them off and feel good about my day. So, I maybe should have said I am a crazy, fanatic…I mean serious planner girl. I spent days looking online this year at different planners and different reviews of planners and even blog posts about planners. It was a big year for me. I decided I was going to switch planners from the one I had been using for the last 5 years. This was a big deal. But I did it.
I found a beautiful planner with delicious paper and the correct layout with a 2-page monthly spread and a weekly view that was vertical by day. I spent weeks waiting for it to arrive locally at the Office Depot. My son happened to be shopping with me and I could see the planner on the very top shelf of the planner section…it wasn’t even displayed yet for the public to buy. I made, I mean, asked him to climb up and get it for me. He was mortified but understood by the crazed look on my face that we weren’t leaving the store without it. I walked out of Office Depot with a dreamy look on my face, cradling the planner like a newborn baby. My son slunk out quite a few paces behind me, clearly wondering if I was losing it.
Later that night, I opened the gorgeous planner and looked through the pages. It was going to be perfect. Perfect. I was so very excited. In the first section of the planner it had a page titled, “Goals: Write it Down, Make it Happen.” Cool. So cool. There was a shaded section at the top of the page that said 2017 mission. Underneath were 6 sections titled, “Personal, Social, Financial, Health, Home, Dream Big.” Whoa. It was so pretty and fabulous…and then I started thinking. What was my mission for 2017? I hadn’t really considered having a social goal for myself. Do people have social goals? Dream big…there it was again. (See my earlier blog post about when God told me to Dream Big.) What was I doing with my life? I wasn’t sure what my mission was for 2017. Don’t businesses have mission statements? I know Bridgehaven’s mission is to empower choices for life through Christ-centered education and support. But they had been working on that for over 30 years…with a staff of 17 and hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors. What in the world was my mission?
My hands started to sweat. What was I going to write on this beautiful page? How was I going to know what my mission was? And then I spent some time with God. In my devotions and in the books I was reading, I found a common theme. The same message kept coming up in different words, by different authors. I even saw some pretty word art on Pinterest that said the exact same thing I had been reading about. (You can also read my earlier blog to understand that God usually has to knock me over the head several times before I understand what he is trying to tell me.) All the messages I was getting boiled down to this simple idea: Do the next right thing. That was way too easy, wasn’t it? Shouldn’t my mission have more big words? My undergraduate degree was in English…I should be able to do better. So I kept thinking there must be more. God certainly had a grander plan for my 2017, didn’t he?
As it turns out, no. After much time and prayer, Do the next right thing makes perfect sense. Don’t get me wrong, I have goals for the year both personally and professionally. There are things I want to improve on as far as my health goes and who wouldn’t be better off if they saved more money? So there are now words, written in colored pens on the sections of the Goal sheet in my planner. But my mission shall be: Do the next right thing. It means that I get to make mistakes. I get to sometimes stray from the path God wants me on. I get to live this messy, beautiful life as a mom who sometimes gets tired and grouchy. I am allowed to forget I want better health and eat too many Hurts Donuts once in a while. But there will always be an answer to the question I ask myself after I falter. “What do I do now?”
God knows we are broken. He knows we are going to screw up. He watches as we make bad choices. But ultimately, he offers us grace and invites us back to the path he wants for us. So the answer to the question, “What do I do now?” is: Do the next right thing. I get to pick up the Bible and spend more time with God. I get to take a deep breath and take my son to Chick-fil-A and a movie so we can have fun together. I get to eat protein and take walks so my doctor is ok with my health at the next appointment. So while I get to write goals for 2017 and do my best to achieve them with strategic planning and calendars and timelines, my mission remains simple. Do the next right thing.
Director of Development