Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you are having a blessed beginning of 2023 🙂
All excitement aside, I still haven’t posted on December and my theme of the month! This will be my last monthly theme post. 2022 has flown by, quicker than I could’ve imagined when it began. But isn’t that the case with life in general?
Now that December, and the holiday season, has come and gone, I yet again ask the question fueling my theme for that month: “What does it mean to live well?” In a world that throws so many ideas at us about what it means to live well and with purpose, it can be hard to really discover what it means to live life in a fulfilling way.
As always, I must begin with what I read in the Word this month. My time with God greatly influences how I respond in my journal, and thus, effectively creates the words I share here.
- Proverbs 9 – 31
- 1 Thessalonians 2
- Luke 1-2
- Matthew 1:18-2
- Jeremiah 13, 29:10-14
- Philippians 4
At the end of this post, as well, you will find a list of books I recommend for the new year! Stick around to find out 😉
And now I give you what the Lord has taught me this month about life, and what it means to live.
12/1: “Y’know, if I’ve learned one thing over the years it is that quality of life is rarely determined by what you have, but rather who you’re with and what you do with what you have.”
12/2: “Lord, help me live a life not of unrealistic expectations, but of hopeful joy meant to light up whatever corner of the world You entrust me with.”
12/7: “1 Thessalonians 2 speaks of Paul’s journey to wholeness; Your gospel and his resulting life. He wanted the recipients to know you. You call believers to live in Your glory and kingdom, and to share that with others.
Hallelujah, Lord God. May I walk well and wisely in Your calling.”
12/9: “Tonight I feel paralyzed by choices. There’s so many to make… but even so, here is beautiful. Help me be fully present rather than worried. Help me reconcile my unattainably perfect dreams of the furture, as nothing will truly be perfect until eternity with You.
(Proverbs 16) Wow, I needed these words. I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to make all the right decisions and align with Your will. This chapter has helped me realize that while yes, I should use the common sense I have from Your Spirit and follow what You’ve pressed on my heart, ultimately You’ll establish me according to Your plans.
In other words, I can’t mess it up!
You have the final say, as I have surrendered my life to Your lead, and so I’m FREE to be present and follow Your lead one day at a time! Ha! Hallelujah!
Regardless of where and to who this wild abandon of life takes me to, help me pursue righteousness, graciousness, kindness, and overall a heart and mind that seeks thinking and pondering more than feeling.”
12/12: “Lord, I don’t know how to be faithful with my corner of the world because I don’t fully know what that corner of the world is.
But a life well lived is aware of Your big picture; of the joy and hope that will come in heaven one day. Speed up that time, Lord. Please.”
12/13: “(Proverbs 20) Your standards for what constitutes a good life are so different and much more amazing than mine. My nature rebels against the lense through which You desire me to see the world and the way I must live in it. But, Lord, I want to honor You and live a life of great joy, which You have designed me for. I reflect Your image… a glorious thought.
Deepen my understanding of the world, Lord God, and of my place in it, and what sharing You in it means for me.”
12/16: “I hate how, in my search for more, I miss the purpose in what is happening right here. O help me, God, to get past my fear of disappointing people and instead attune myself to Your voice, that I might find clarity, truth, and life in Your wholeness.
You have promised hope and life everlasting… I need no more than You provide. Thank You for how You provide.”
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?”
~C. S. Lewis
12/17: “What is a life well lived? Life lived as a follower of You, a conqueror who still stumbles in battle at times but is never too far gone, someone who knows they aren’t better or worse than those around them and who truly lives free under the blood of Christ.”
12/22: “(Proverbs 28) Living proactively, boldly, with an accurate sense of justice and a standard of honesty, is less about actual action and more about one’s lense behind life. Prayer, rest and waiting on God’s lead aren’t ‘action’ in the physical sense, but are done with the world’s suffering and one’s calling in mind, and thus are proactive. Laziness is blocking out the world. Focusing on self.
I don’t want to be lazy.
Help me stand up and fight for what You declare is right… to give my all.”
12/24: “Lord, may eagerness compel me out of fear and into a thoughtful, steady presence in this world as a vessel of light; saved by grace so unthinkably purchased through the blood of Christ – once a small, innocent baby – poured out for my darkness and sin.”
12/27: “(Proverbs 30) Because You are my shield, the pressure of life can be withstood, and I can grow. I can grow more content, and wise, and prepared for life’s challenges.
12/28: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned through Proverbs, it’s the importance of wisdom. Help me seek that out not only broadly but in specific, pin-pointed areas of my life from the people I know that You’ve placed in my life for that reason. You are never unintentional… everything has a purpose.”
12/29: “My life, this life, is full of words. And curveballs. And beauty. And darkness… all in one. It’s hard to decipher the way often enough. But because of Jesus, I can learn and listen and belong to You and glorify You and be made whole. Hallelujah!”
12/30: “Restoration, hope, healing, guidance… they’re all found when I abandon worry and instead choose to trust and cling to You for all life and godliness in every way. This passage (Jeremiah 29:10-14) declares that seek and I will find, pray and I will be heard, and thus placed back on the path of trust.
This leap-of-faith life is hard and nuanced and confuzzling. No matter what, though, help me cling to the calling You’ve declared for me. I love You, and choose to praise.”
“This life is a wild, precious gift. Help me live as if such is so all the time.” (12/26)
Looking over these journal entries, I see a lot of similar themes regarding contentment, purpose, and thoughtfulness.
I’m at a stage in life where I’m struggling a bit to fully understand what to prioritize. Maybe you’re in a similar spot, where you’re unsure of your purpose and where exactly you’re headed, or how God will use what you’ve come out of.
But even so, the life that Christ provides us can lead to contentment regardless of where we’re at. We can be faithful one step at a time, one day a time with what He places in front of us, no matter what that may be.
As a high school/college student, I’ve been thrust into the sudden demands of the future. If you’re in a similar boat, I think you would agree that we understand more about how hard it is to stay present than anyone. There is a gargantuan emphasis in our age group on the big picture. Deciding where you’re headed, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll do when you ‘arrive’, so to speak, is a high priority. But, as Christians, our bigger picture is even bigger than future educational or vocational decisions.
Our bigger picture of a life well-lived is a life lived for Christ.
And what is a life lived for Christ? A life lived focused on His calling to humanity. To love and glorify Him with everything we have, and to love other people.
As much as it is tempting to seek elusive ideals of the ‘future’, where you can be or do anything, so to speak, and to proactively keep pushing on and on to try and find where it is God has called you, I urge you to stop for a second.
You’re here, right here, wherever you’re reading this, for a reason.
There is a place for thinking about the future. And thank God, His Spirit has provided the wisdom and ability to think with clarity about the future. Proverbs is full of wise counsel, including reminders that He’s placed people in all of our lives to help us decide where to head and how to get there.
But we must remember that as much as thoughtfulness and engaging the mind is an important part of life, and enhances the way we see the world so deeply, there is a type of thinking that debilitates. It’s called “worrying”; or, in modern translation, “overthinking”.
I don’t think there’s such a thing as “overthinking” in the pondering about meaning, life and godliness sense, but there is definitely overthinking in the sense of how am I supposed to figure everything out? And Where will I end up in 5, 10, 15 years? And How will I measure up to all that I feel like I have to?
The ultimatum, my friend, is that you must consider your current context. A good life is so much more than a planned, clearly understood one. It is a life not borne out of worry, but rather joyful contentment that leaves space for thought and wonder in the place the Lord has us as we strive to follow Him.
There’s an obsession this time of year with trying to fix everything that’s wrong with our lives. New Year’s Resolutions, anyone? But I’m finding that maybe said goals aren’t always worth all the hype.
After all, this life is an undeserved gift from God. It would be a waste of time to try and perfect it.
Instead, how about we focus on living it?
Whew! That was a lot. I hope you were blessed by it in some way! Now to transition into some housekeeping stuff.
First of all, three books I read this month!
- Julie by Catherine Marshall. Written by the author of the beloved classic “Christy”, “Julie” is about a teenage girl’s coming-of-age in a small town during the Great Depression. The story follows her and her family as her dad becomes the editor of a town’s local paper. From romance and adventure to the interesting storyline built around a historical flood, I found this novel enjoyable!
- The Reading Life by C.S. Lewis. This is a compilation of Lewis’ various writings on reading. I enjoyed his perspectives on old books, different genres, and various other aspects of the world of literature. He adds to the ongoing conversation about what constitutes good writing and healthy literary habits. I always love C.S. Lewis’ writing, and this compilation did not differ!
- Coral by Sara Ella. From its various authentic depictions of mental health issues close to my heart to the way it weaves in the significance of fiction, fantasies, and storytelling to healing, wholeness, and life is not only touching, but wildly accurate. Ella’s beautiful prose and incredibly deep characters touched my soul, and reminded me again of the hope in my “after”. Definitely recommend this one! (A more in-depth review is coming :))
*Do note that Coral is intense and includes a trigger warning for many mental health topics*
- Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor. This incredibly practical, yet deeply rooted in biblical principle, guide to redeeming one’s time for God’s glory is eye-opening, motivating, and helpful for anyone who is struggling to live productively and purposefully. Using examples from the life of Christ, Raynor explores 7 different principles Jesus used to encourage Christ-followers to make the most of their limited time and practices for living them out. I definitely recommend this one!
And now to talk a bit about my plan for “Graceful Authenticity” this year.
This year I plan to begin trying to post twice a month. I want to try and do more book/movie reviews alongside my current musings and some poetry. Also, maybe some more fiction! You never know.
With that, my friends and fellow readers, Happy New Year! May the Lord bless and keep you in 2023.