I can think of some missed opportunities. There are times that I could have done something and didn’t. There are “I might have been able to if I had been paying attention” moments. After every day, every month, every year, I look back and think about how things might have been different if I hadn’t squandered the opportunities.
You know the feeling, too. Well, maybe not you, over in the corner. You get it right every time. But the rest of us here, we get it.
May I suggest that we look at our unsquandered opportunities? What are the conversations that you did have? In all the work you did this year, what are the right choices you made? I know that you wanted to read through the Bible, for example, but did you read through a book? (May I recommend Nehemiah?) I know that you wanted to start praying more, but did you pray at all? Remember that one decision that you did ask God for counsel about? The one time you stopped and listened. The one time you reached out.
What? There were a couple? There were several?
I thought you’d remember some. That’s what I like about Chris Guillebeau’s annual review. You start with what worked. It’s what I like about Ruth Barton’s approach to examen. (Part one and part two). As I wrote this summer,
Barton talks about examen of consciousness, examen of conscience, and confession. Consciousness, in her model, means consciousness of God. Rather than starting with “I’m so awful”, we start with “God is working, let’s look for evidences.” Conscience is looking at me. And confession is agreeing with God that there is a problem.
As we start our end of year reflections, may I suggest spending awhile considering what we didn’t squander?
I’m thinking about a wild offer. I’m thinking about saying, “If you buy 2,000 copies of A Great Work, I’ll come and build you a wall.” Or build an orphanage wall. Or build a room in a Habitat house. I haven’t thought it through. But it would be fun. Let me know what you think.