New Year’s Reflections

I am rubbish at New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a wonder if I remember to make them, let alone keep them. I am only marginally better at New Year’s Reflections. I may have the best of intentions, but often I find that the new year is upon me before I’ve stopped to take a breath.

In spite of my failures in this area, I still think it is good for us to stop and look around us, at what has come before and what may be coming up ahead, whether that is at the start of the year or on a quiet afternoon in the middle of August.

While looking for ideas for new year reflections, I came upon a set of questions looking back over the past year, and I thought I’d give them a go, after altering them ever so slightly. I’ve not done this kind of questionnaire since I was a teenager and groups of friends used to send them round by email, but it can be quite helpful and (dare I say) enjoyable to interrogate oneself a little from time to time.

If you’re anything like me and need a little guidance in your reflection, to keep you from wandering so far off the track you end up in a different wood entirely, you might like to give it a go.

I’ve posted the questions below, and I’ve left my answers in because the idea that someone else might read them was a great encouragement to answer them properly, and because I hope some of you might also feel inclined to share your answers. We share our lives quite naturally as community, but sometimes it’s good to do it a little more intentionally too.

Twenty two questions for the New Year

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

Can I just say September? Mike and I moved into the first house we’ve been able to buy on the 1st, joined the wonderful community that is Revive on the 6th, and found out we were expecting our first baby on the 11th.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

The whole house buying process was pretty stressful. Relatively speaking we had a fairly easy ride but we had very little idea what we were doing so it was all a little bewildering. 

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Finding out that Squiddly (no that won’t be on the birth certificate!) is on the way.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

There were plenty of little hiccups, but thankfully no great obstacles.

5. Pick three words to describe this past year.

Exciting, surprising, full.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

My fiction reading was sadly deficient last year, so I’m going to sound like a proper theology nerd here. I spent the first half of the year writing my dissertation, so I read a lot of great books on the nature of God. I also got very excited reading some Brian McLaren, which reminds me there are probably some good blogs in there…

7. What were the best films you saw this year?

Ex Machina sparked some really interesting thoughts about the theology of artificial intelligence, and Ant Man was a lot of fun. I remember more theatre than film from this year though. The Rolling Stone was extraordinary, and Imelda Staunton was phenomenal in Gypsy.

8. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

Obviously I’m meant to say God, but it’s true. If it wasn’t for my decision to throw my lot in with him, things would look very different. And then of course there’s Mike. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime life. 

9. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

I am now living in a new house in a city, studying for a new degree with a new college, and working in a new job with a new church, and we are expecting a new baby who will make us a new family. So everything really.

10. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I’ve continued to grow in confidence, so much so that I’ve even surprised Mike on a couple of occasions. And for all that I still have a tendency to overthink things, I’m a lot more content and settled than I have been.

11. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

I’ve felt a desire to explore less traditional ways of doing church for some time now, but Revive has been my first chance to do that, and it has already been an incredible experience. It’s really opened me up to what the community of God can look like, and is helping me discover what my own spiritual home looks like.

12. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

Well I now have a developing baby bump and have discovered that maternity jeggings are the most comfortable thing ever. I can still wear them after the baby has arrived, right?

13. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

I’ve been blessed with lots of new relationships as I’ve joined Revive and started at college, so there has certainly been numerical growth! Seriously though, meeting new people used to terrify me, but for the first time ever I have really enjoyed starting those relationships, and I look forward to growing them further in the coming year.

14. What was the most enjoyable part of your work professionally or at home?

The carol services were great fun, and it felt like a great privilege to be able to share the message that God is with us with so many people.

15. What was the most challenging part of your work professionally or at home?

The carol services were also hard work as they were a bit of a departure from what I’d done before, but I genuinely loved the challenge.

16. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

It’s such a cliche, but box sets on Amazon Prime. Although they do say that time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

17. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Finally starting training for ministry. It’s only taken nine years to get here.

18. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

That you have to jump in with both feet. And that nothing is wasted.

19. Where did you most clearly see God this year?

There have been lots of little moments that have shown Mike and I that God has been walking with us on our new adventure and that we are now in the right place, but I remember having a really profound sense of God while sitting outside on my lunch break back in July, an experience which led me to write this…

I have been trying to describe to myself what it feels like to experience the presence of God, and I had the most profound sense of it being like looking at someone you love and seeing their love for you written across their face as plain as day. Like the surge of joy that comes when their heart speaks to yours, and you understand how truly and deeply you are loved and wanted. Like knowing in every moment and every atom of your being that they love you, but just for a moment that love filling you so that it is the only thing that matters.

Sometimes it is the most perfect sense of calm, and sometimes it is energy coursing through you like electricity. Sometimes it is a sense of things falling into place, and sometimes it is a righteous fury against all that is still wrong in the world. But just sometimes it is all the love in the world being lavished on you by the one who knows you best and loves you all the same.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

A real turning point but also a real coming together.

21. How do you hope this next year will be like this past year?

I hope it will be just as exciting and surprising and full. I’m sure Squiddly will see to that.

22. How do you hope this next year will be different for you?

I hope there will be new challenges, but more than wishing things were different for me, I which things were different for those I care about who’ve had a rough year of it. I know a few people who could really do with a break.

Published by leighannegreenwood

Baptist minister in training with Revive Leeds. Blogging on behalf of Revive and (coming soon) for myself at Covenant Project.

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