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.
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.
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:
- Single best thing to happen this year?
- Single most challenging thing to happen this year?
- Unexpected joy this year?
- Unexpected obstacle?
- 3 words to describe 2016?
- What did you do for the first time in 2016?
- How did you spend your birthday this year?
- Books you read?
- With whom are your most valuable relationships?
- Biggest personal challenge from January – December?
- In what ways are you growing emotionally?
- In relationships with others?
- Did you fall in love this year?
- Did your heart break this year?
- What is the most enjoyable part of your work?
- Most challenging?
- What made you cry the hardest this year?
- Single biggest time waster?
- Best way you’ve used your time?
- Biggest thing you’ve learned?
- What phrase/statement best describes 2016?
- What song will always remind you of this year?
- What trips have you taken?
- Current Favorites?
- 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.