Reflection is one of my favorite things to do around the beginning of the year. I like to look back on the year that has ended to see the wonderful events that sprinkled the year. This could include accomplishments, fun things I did with my family, or blessings from God. And I also like to look at the year in front of me, deciding what I want to focus on in my spiritual walk, what goals I have, and in what areas I hope to grow.
I recently listened to an episode of The Next Right Thing podcast in which the host, Emily P. Freeman, talks about how she likes to take time for reflection at the end of every season. So at the end of May, August, November, and February, she will look over the past three months. I loved the idea of having several reflections throughout the year. This might be an opportunity to see what’s working, what’s not working, what changes you might need to make, and so on. But I decided to tweak it just a bit to do a midyear reflection instead of the seasonal reflections. And since we are already at the end of June, halfway through 2019, this is the perfect time to do just that.
I have a journal that I try to write in each day. It is mainly a gratitude journal. Each evening I like to write down at least five things that I am thankful for. Often times what I choose to jot down are events that occurred in that given day. It could be something seemingly small, but meaningful to me, such as when my husband empties the dishwasher, mows the lawn, or any other number of things that he does around the house. They are things that can easily be taken for granted, so I find that writing them down nurtures gratitude. I also might write down big events, such as my niece’s wedding which occurred last month. Keeping a gratitude journal is a helpful way for me to see the blessings that filled each day. And this is what I used when going through my Midyear Reflection.
If you don’t have a journal like this, you could look through things like emails, text messages, photos on your phone, etc. If you routinely read your Bible, you could also look through it to help you remember what you have been learning in your studies. And of course you could always use your memory to recall different events that occurred over the past several months. In the podcast I mentioned, Emily stated that her resources for her March-May reflection included her to-do lists, quotes she jotted down, photos, current events, and work / life milestones.
I actually enjoyed taking the time to look back over the things that filled my days during the first six months of this year. And I learned a few things along the way. Here are just a few things that I learned from my midyear reflection:
1 – In the day-to-day grind, it might feel like you are getting nowhere. But when you look back, you will see that you were really taking baby steps and just didn’t realize it. For example, I felt perhaps I was not changing in my spiritual walk. But looking back on the events of the past few months, I can see how I have grown in this area.
2 – When you stick with something, it pays off. In our society, we expect instant results. But that is not how God designed the world. When we plant seeds, they take months to harvest. The same is true for many things in life. When you start an exercise plan, it takes time to see results. In the same way, when you begin spending time with God, you might not feel like a new creature on day one. But over several months time, you will see that you have been transformed.
3 – When you pray, you can be certain that God hears every word. Looking back on my prayers from the past few months, I can see how God has answered me. His answer might not always look the way I imagined it would, but that doesn’t mean He didn’t answer.
4 – Some things in our lives are joyful, other things are unpleasant, and then there are things which are actually both joyful and unpleasant. That surprised me, but it’s true. There were events that occurred over the past months which brought smiles and stress, at the same time.
5 – When we are present in life and intentionally look for God everywhere, we will find Him. One example happened at a funeral we attended recently, which was held in a very old church. As we waited for the service to start, I picked up an old hymnal and opened it up to a random page. I knew God was speaking to me with the hymn that I stumbled upon. It was one that I had never heard before, but the words held a lot of meaning for me. I continued to flip through the book and came across some old hymns I recognized. And then I discovered one called Tell Me the Story of Jesus, which I had heard on a modern Christmas record by Kim Walker-Smith. Prior to flipping through this hymnal, I didn’t realize it was an old hymn.
These are just a few things that I learned from my midyear reflection. Will you join me and do a midyear reflection as well? If you decide to, then please let me know how it went. I’d love to hear about it!