How to Choose a Theme for the New Year

new-y-ear-themeSince 2011 or so, I stopped making resolutions at the start of each new year. No matter what the resolution was, I would eventually forget about it, lose motivation for it, and stop pursuing it. Resolutions tend to be unrealistic and impractical because of their vague nature. Go to the gym more. Eat more vegetables. Be nicer to co-workers. Read the Bible more. Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong, making goals is very important. I still make goals on a monthly basis, but they are more manageable, time-sensitive, and attainable. (More on this in a future post!)

So, instead of making resolutions for 2017, I would encourage you to pray about a theme or verse/passage for the new year.

REFLECT and PROCESS

As you reflect on 2016, do it in the context of the following questions.

  1. How has God spoken to me this past year? What has He been trying to teach me?
  2. How has God used other people to shape me this past year?
  3. What are some major events or life decisions that impacted me this past year? How did they impact me?
  4. What are some major events or life decisions that may happen in the new year? How might they impact me?

If you have been dutifully keeping a journal this past year, these questions may be easy to answer. If you’re finding it difficult to answer these questions, try writing or mapping out your responses, talk it over with your spouse, family, or close friend, or process it however else you feel like. The important thing is that you take the time to really reflect.

Your responses to these questions will help shape what your theme/verse will be for the new year. For some of you, this year may have been full of trials and hardships. For others, it could be described as one of the best years ever. And another group of people may have experienced a little bit of both.

2016 was the year of perseverance for me. The year started off really difficult. And then around July, things started to look better, but there were still ups and downs. Overall, I think God was telling me to not give up when things were bad, and to remember Him during the good times. God used several people to really shape me this year. He used my husband who challenged me to faithfully pray more. He used my close friends to speak encouraging words into my life. He used my family members who visited me this past year to remind me of good memories. God also used my pastor who helped me not to stray away from God.

Some major events that happened this past year were my grandmother’s passing, Johnny’s passing, weddings, friends getting pregnant, friends having babies, husband’s job promotion, launching this blog, among other memories.

PRAY and CHOOSE

As you think about the new year, answer and pray over the questions and responses, a certain word, phrase, or verse might come to mind. For me, as I think about some major events or life decisions that may happen in the new year, the phrase WORK and REST comes up consistently. And the verse that corresponds to this phrase is Hebrews 4:9-11.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (find ESV translation)

The idea of work is all throughout the Bible. God worked when He created the world. We are called to work in either a vocational, corporate, or other setting. Jesus worked during his years of ministry, healing the sick, casting out demons, etc. There are also numerous verses about resting from work. There is a natural rhythm to our lives, and work and rest are part of it.

As a married couple with no kids, it’s easy to blur the line between resting and being lazy. There’s more free time so I can sleep in however long I want. I have the option of going out and picking up dinner when I don’t feel like cooking. I can delay doing certain chores because I might have some more time the next day. I think in 2017, God wants to teach me what it is to have that balance of work and rest, but moreso, how to rest fruitfully.

I hope and pray that whatever your life theme is, it will help you draw nearer to God on a daily basis.

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