Goals | Failure | Jesus

New Years is my favorite, but 2015 is looking a bit different than I thought it would. Goals and resolutions are out (for now), and looking for the Lord is in. 

Eventually I will begin goal setting and planning again (and I can't wait!), but I’ve come to understand that I am a Recovering Schemer. I recently added "recovering" when God sat me down at the end of 2014 and told me that we had some work to do. 

You see, I’ve spent my life setting goals and going hard after them. A dreaming+planning session is one of my greatest joys; it gets me pumped and ready to go differently than anything else. What I’ve discovered in taking a goal hiatus in 2015 is that a well planned life, at least the way I have been doing it, is just a substitute for trusting God. I didn't trust God with my day or week or goals or aspirations, I planned it. I simply used my own cleverness and wisdom to structure my  life. 

And here’s what I’ve discovered. 

I failed. 

A lot. 

Can you relate? 

Statistically, 36% of people who made New Years resolutions have abandoned them by now. And apparently, only 8% of New Years Resolutions are achieved. 

That's a lot of failure. 

It seems to me that goals and resolutions will almost always fail. 

I have tried so hard to rid myself of the vices the seem to plague me, and I can’t think of a time that I was successful. Leaning on my own self-denial and strength to change things that are so deeply set within me is futile, and generally leaves me worse of and deeper intrenched in whatever thing I was trying to rid myself of in the first place. 

Effort ends in failure which leads to a loss of motivation and an acceptance that I cannot change. 

Thankfully I’m not the only one, though. St. Paul writes about this very thing in a letter to the Roman church. It's a really terrible, confusing passage to read in English, but the Message does a good job communicating the idea. 

What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise...the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway....

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.

He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
— Romans 7:14-25

Because He has done what it takes to overcome the inadequacy inside of us. 

Because He has set things right. 

Because He accomplished and conquered and we hold hands with Him in that victory.  

We set New Year resolutions because we want to be better. We want to grow and become better human beings. We see the failure and the junk inside of ourselves, and we desperately want to be rid of it. 

But for now, I’m taking a step back. Because how I was pursuing Life was toxic and keeping me from the very thing I wanted. 

So I’m seeking first God's Kingdom and Lordship over my life, and sitting at Jesus’ feet trusting that He will teach me how relate to goals in a healthy way. Learning how to make my goals and dreams and growth a conversation with Him instead of just headwork on my end.

Because, as I see it, He’s the only real change anyway. 


If you've set goals for this year (and maybe this month and this week), way.to.go! It is such a hard, but worthy path to better ourselves to better represent Jesus here on the Earth. Drop them in the comments below (or tag your monthly goals blogpost) and I'll be praying for you. Please, please seek Jesus' face. Ask Him what He thinks about them and then ask Him to help you. 

"I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does." 
-Romans 7:24-25

New Year | Fresh Word

 New Years is my favorite. It really is. The fresh, clean newness is so full of grace and joy. I'm a pretty intense, it's-obviously-black-or-white kind of gal, and I tend to gravitate to judgment before mercy and impossible standards instead of realistic expectancy. Both for others and myself. But at the beginning of the year, I can look at all my failings and shortcomings and mistakes without getting discouraged and bogged down by them. And from that place I am able to make hopefully, expectant plans and dreams for who I will be in twelve months time.

But this New Years Day came in with a crash, and I feel a little bit worse off than I did last year; a little more beat up and a little farther behind. Between several job changes, a two-year-old, difficult life decisions, pregnancy hormones, and adding a whole new (screaming) person to our family, we found ourselves functioning, but just so. The possibility of the season buried by the heaviness of our circumstances, choices, and missteps in 2014. 

Our human condition requires that we greet a new year head on, whether we are ready or not. And this January found us really not ready. But as we gingerly stepped into the new year, the joy of newness, unstained by hardship and sadness, began to take hold.

As we became ready to plan and dream for 2015, we both found that we couldn't. The desire, or maybe the ability, to make plans and resolutions and #oneworld2015 wasn't there. After several weeks of frustration, I decided to spend some time in prayer asking specific questions about what 2015 was supposed to be about (which, hellooo...probably should have done that to begin with). And because my big Dad God loves me, He answered my questions.

Kind of.

The answer to every single inquiry and worry about 2015 was "Seek Me First". 

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
— Jesus

This scripture in Matthew 6 is speaking specifically of food and clothes, but
the Holy Spirit whispered that it was about so much more for me. The world strives after health and wealth and comfort and the fulfillment of needs (most New Year Resolutions end up in one of these categories). All good and worthy things, but problematic when they become the finish line. 

God knows what I need. More than that, He knows what I want. And perhaps most starting of all is that He cares about those things. If I believe Him to be Good, to know what I need, and to care about what I want, why wouldn't I trust Him for those things? I won't have any of them without Him anyway. 

So I'm putting my stake down firmly in the Word of Jesus; surrendering the dreams and the plans and the dear wishes I've hardly dared let myself wish, and trusting Him to add all of them to me.

My only aim, my one dream for 2015, is to seek God's will and gaze Jesus' face, to obey what I hear Him saying and to do what I see Him doing.

And to let Him work out the rest. 

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.

People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
— Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG)