by Beth Ann Morgan
How does a goal-oriented person face the New Year with hope of accomplishing anything in the midst of an indefinite season of crisis? The answer I found for myself during our most trying seasons wasn’t necessarily the one I wanted, but it was the one I needed.
A doable list.
I started my New Year with my annual list-making ritual. I’d always loved to set goals and looked forward to it, the creation of my personal road map for the coming year full of exciting adventure and activity. I would spend all morning propped up in bed, praying and writing, remembering and learning, hoping and dreaming. By the end of it all, I would have a neat, one-page vision to help set my course and motivate every step.
It was never a question of if but rather when all of the items would get done. With joy.
However, this year proved different, as had the last. Nearly every goal had gone right out the window, and as I sat with my yellow legal pad and G-2 pen, I struggled to find something attainable to record.
What was the point of making goals if I couldn’t achieve them?
Many of my previous goals had revolved around writing, things to accomplish around the home and in my family/ministry/relational life. After living out of suitcases in the midst of complete upheaval for years, I had to accept that none of last year’s goals had been met and would not be met . . . for a long time.
We no longer participated in ministry outside of our immediate family. We couldn’t keep up with all of the relationships we had enjoyed prior to crisis. We weren’t often home, and I wasn’t writing anything except our hospital blog, struggling to get even a few hours with my children, let alone meet my fancy pre-planned relational goals.
I realized I needed to make a choice before the voracious monster of frustration latched its ugly talons on my withering spirit. I could either keep writing lists of unattainable goals, or I could prayerfully jot down a couple of somewhat attainable goals pertinent to my current season of life.
I chose the latter. And it set me free.
Free to focus on the here—and-now. Free to live fully today instead of pushing toward the fantasy of tomorrow. Free to love without distraction.
I kept my list simple.
1) Love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
2) Love my neighbor as myself.
Both kept me plenty busy but deeply satisfied. I’ll never fully master either on this earth, but the very pursuit of them wrought new and beautiful meaning to my goal-keeping. Not that I wasn’t already trying in my own way to love God and others, but my overall focus shifted from accomplishing tasks to loving well.
I’m forever grateful for the change. Even though I’m at a place today where I can add more tasks to my list this year, I’ll always keep these two goals at the top.
Everything else is secondary.
Photo credit courtesy of Bosela