04 January 2012


It is refreshing to look on a new year as a chance for change. It's strange, really. There isn't too much that is different between December 31 and January 1, save for the exchange of a 1 for a 2 and a new calendar for the refrigerator. And yet, something about taking down the old calendar and putting up a new one gives us a sense of a fresh start.
As is the case with just about every new year, I find myself longing for a fresh start for my "spiritual life." I begin setting goals that are sure to whip me up into spiritual shape, much like a new diet or workout routine.

Whenever I look at my journal I panic when I see the large gap in entries, especially as of late. Sometimes I'm even tempted to catch up by fabricating entries (do I think that it will be handed in...?). I reflect on how regularly I've been reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. If I've been faithful for a few consecutive days I give my "spiritual life" a shiny sticker. If not, I feel guilty and resolve to try harder. I vow to follow a strict, rigorous routine that is sure to make me a holier person (or, at the very least, a good legalistic Christian).

I think that the Sunday school answers of "read your Bible" and "pray" have been so ingrained on me from an early age that I've become attuned to gauging the quality of my relationship with God on their frequency. I'm only starting to learn that these two disciplines are by no means indications of my "spiritual life." They are not the end result, but the means to the end.

Am I loving God more and more? Am I falling in love with his people? Am I becoming more gracious, more compassionate, more generous? Am I becoming the person God created me to be? These are the questions I need to be asking myself, not whether I following a set of tasks. While I definitely think that spiritual disciplines (reading Bible, prayer, solitude, journaling, fasting, etc.) are some of the vehicles by which we can cultivate a healthy spirituality, the accomplishment of these tasks are not the results we should be aiming for.

This year, I resolve to be less interested in the tasks I am accomplishing and more interested in the person I am becoming.

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