A Year In Review

2016 has been quite a ride!  If I am really honest, I am not sad to see it go.  It’s not that this year has been terrible – in fact it had brought a lot of new seasons and excitement – but it just wasn’t exactly the year I had in mind when I prepped for it New Year’s Eve of last year. I have this tradition I started about 6 years ago where I journal out the same series of questions and answer each of them.  I have mixed emotions each time I do it.  On one hand, it is fun to look back and read the answers from years past.  To see how different things are from then to now, where I have grown, where things have shifted, who my closest relationships are with, what is most important to me, how I spend my time.  On the other hand, it is difficult to face that list of questions.  Not because they are hard to answer, but because they demand that I be totally honest.  They require that I not sugar coat the answers, and that I reflect on the last 365 days – not just the last 12.

Last year, I sat in Thailand as I did my 2015 reflection.  It was our last night in the country, and we had some downtime to relax at our resort before flying out the next morning.  I can close my eyes and feel the thick humidity that lingered in the air – it caused the ink on pages to smear, and the paper of my journal to crumple and go limp.  I can taste the sweetness from the Sprite and the saltiness of the potato chips I grabbed from the snack bar.  But most of all, I can still recall the way I felt in those moments.  2015 was a challenging year.  It was draining, and difficult, and it truly was by the grace of God that I survived in such stride.  It was a year that had ups and downs, and asked more questions than gave answers.  I vividly remember begging God in those moments of relfection for 2016 to be a year that answered questions, not ask more of them.

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When I first sat down to do my reflection for this year, I was disappointed.  Disappointed because I felt like I stood at the end of 2016 with more questions than answers.  More frustrations than peace, more unmet expectations than accomplishments.  I am a 2 with a 3 wing on the Enneagram scale (a post for another time), and with that comes a lot of self inflicted pressure, and major concern for how I appear to others.  I constantly want to appear like I have it all together, that I am extremely successful, and that I have no needs of my own.  As I have read more about my number/type, I have discovered that a lot of my sense of failure is due to the microscope through which I am viewing my life and the illusion that I am trying to project to others.  You see, it’s not that 2016 didn’t answer questions, it was just that it didn’t all of answer the questions I wanted it to and in ways that I thought would be best.  God checked some major things off the questions list: I have a job that I enjoy, a family that is supportive of me, a church family that I adore, and the greatest group of friends that is more than I could have ever imagined.  I was so focused on my wants, my needs, my timelines and agendas, that I failed to see what questions God wanted to answer for me that I had not considered asking for and where He had provided answers for me this year that went over and beyond what I asked for.

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So I sit eagerly on the cusp of the new year, hopeful and expectant for what 2017 has to bring!

If you want to do a year review of your own, here is the list of questions I answer, with a few newbies added in this year:

  1. Single best thing to happen this year?
  2. Single most challenging thing to happen this year?
  3. Unexpected joy this year?
  4. Unexpected obstacle?
  5. 3 words to describe 2016?
  6. What did you do for the first time in 2016?
  7. How did you spend your birthday this year?
  8. Books you read?
  9. With whom are your most valuable relationships?
  10. Biggest personal challenge from January – December?
  11. In what ways are you growing emotionally?
  12. Spiritually?
  13. Physically?
  14. In relationships with others?
  15. Did you fall in love this year?
  16. Did your heart break this year?
  17. What is the most enjoyable part of your work?
  18. Most challenging?
  19. What made you cry the hardest this year?
  20. Single biggest time waster?
  21. Best way you’ve used your time?
  22. Biggest thing you’ve learned?
  23. What phrase/statement best describes 2016?
  24. What song will always remind you of this year?
  25. What trips have you taken?
  26. Current Favorites?
  27. Goals for 2017?

P.S. – If you are curious about the Enneagram, here is the book that I read this Fall.  It’s super insightful, and I would highly recommend it.

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