Reflect Without Regret

I sat quietly on my couch the last day of 2016 with pen and paper in hand. My task was to reflect on the past as I prepared for the future.

I do not make resolutions--and I don't knock anyone who does--but I do re-evaluate my goals and list the steps that I need to take in order to accomplish them as I move forward with a clean slate. Along with the goals, I have a End of the Year Reflection that I found online and have used as a tool to prepare for the next steps in life.

The Reflection sheet has the following areas to complete:

* 10 Highlights

* 10 Disappointments

* 3 Game Changers

* 3 Things I Focused On

* 3 Things I Forgot

I jotted down four highlights and hit a mental block. As I turned the page to begin the ten disappointments, my mind was moving faster than my pen. I had listed ten and had others that could have easily been added to the count.

Isn't that the way things often work? When we look at our lives in the silence of the day, are we quicker to celebrate our accomplishments or get stumped by our defeats? I can not describe how quickly my mood changed as I looked at that long list of disappointments. I had shifted from a mindset of quiet and contemplative reflection to a mindset of defeat. I could not believe all of the things that I considered disappointments in 2016.

I had a flashback to my second grade science project. I had gathered my supplies: a green Coca-Cola bottle, stacks of newspapers, homemade paper mache paste (courtesy of my mom), paint, food coloring, vinegar and baking soda. I did everything that I was supposed to do and was quite pleased with my finished product. When I arrived in Mrs. Dunlap's class the next day, my mood changed when I saw some of my classmates' beautiful, elaborate landforms.

I went home and told my parents how ugly my project was and cried because I didn't think I did a good job. My dad asked me one question. Did your volcano work?

Did it work?

He said, "You received an "A" for your effort. Your volcano did not look like everybody else's', but it still worked."

As I recalled my dad's words and the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, I realized that I had spent so much time looking at the disappointments that I did not recognize the blessings in the highlights.

For example, one disappointment was that I did not blog consistently in 2016. Although that was true, one of my highlights was that several of my blog posts were featured in our church's monthly magazine, The Great Commission. While I was looking at one list in regret, God was nudging my heart in a different direction.

It is so easy for us to turn a time of self-reflection into a moment of silent and pondering regrets.

Reflection should be a time to celebrate growth for what has been accomplished, not a time to grumble about what has yet to occur.

Reflection should not be a time of being so focused on what didn't go well that we miss the things that actually worked. As we move forward in 2017, do not let the disappointments from 2016 prevent you from growing and being good stewards over the gifts that God has placed within you.

I sat quietly on the last day of 2016 and asked for direction in the upcoming year. At the end of the day, I had peace because I refocused on God's plan for me and not the things that I have said that I must do.

When He is pleased...well, that is the only highlight that matters. It is His "well done" that overrides everything else.

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