Well, it’s the end of 2015. And I’m doing some reflecting, of course. Maybe I should wait until New Year’s Eve, but I’m on Christmas break, and so my mind is in an introspective mood. Here’s my main question: am I happy with how this year has gone? For the most part, yes. I mean, I think that all of us feel a bit of restlessness and perhaps even resignation at the end of each year, simply because we go into it with the highest of hopes in January. And even if it was really amazing, it still (at least for me) leaves something to be desired. As if whatever happened is not enough. It makes me think of a number of things that C. S. Lewis has said:
“I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience.” – The Weight of Glory
“I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – Mere Christianity
I am always looking for more. I think we all are.
As you probably know, I make a Goals poster at the beginning of each year to keep me inspired and to provide me with meaning and help me to feel fulfilled when December rolls around. They’re kind of like my New Year’s resolutions, but more specific, and related to overall personal and professional growth. Here’s my 2015 poster – and you can see that I wanted to faithfully work out, swim, play guitar, blog, travel, publicly speak, and invest in my bride. I pretty much did all of those things. But if I can be honest, I’m like, “meh.” It’s really nice to be disciplined and focused and productive and achieve goals, and these are good things. But they don’t fully satisfy me. They just don’t.
“Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object […] If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy.” – The Weight of Glory
Yeah. I feel that. I spend every year trying to accomplish things –awesome things, for sure. But I have these deep desires in me, and they simply are not fulfilled even as I build my career, focus on fitness, work on having a great marriage, or travel. I also know that we are commended to find enjoyment in our work, and in the things we do. And I do, I really do. But it’s still not enough. It just isn’t. Something is missing.
And so I am looking back upon my year, and identifying moments that made me feel different in a good way, in a great way. Different from my normal workaday life. Different in a way that I would want to remain there in that place, if I could.
I am looking back upon my year, and identifying moments that made me feel different in a good way, in a great way.
I think of summer camp in Banner Elk, North Carolina. I felt so close to God there, and like I was living out of the abundance of my heart, like I was living out of the best parts of me as I invested in the teens that came simply through being a friend to them, intentionally and meaningfully.
I think of the nighttime or pre-dawn walks I take by myself around the lake in my neighborhood. I feel so close to God there. It’s peaceful, I’m not in a rush, and there is no pressure to do anything but to talk to Him and listen to Him.
I think of the one-on-one conversations I’ve had with people I care about, about the hard stuff going on in their lives. Just trying to love them by listening to them and encouraging them. Just trying to feel their pain and steal some of it away, always with my presence and sometimes with my words. It’s simple and outside of the spotlight. But I know I was made to do it, and I know in those moments I’m linked up to God as He uses the gifts He’s given me.
I think of the times when I am laying in bed clutching a spare pillow tight against my chest, and quietness surrounds me, and I can just lay there, and pray for loved ones, or the heavier things in my own life. And nothing else is required except for me to be still, and rest, and feel safe and protected by Him, and be reminded that He is ever-loving and He knows what He’s doing and everything – in time – will be alright.
Those are my favorite times of 2015. Those are what satisfied me the most and, if I look back across the years, have satisfied me the most along the way. Not perfectly, but as well as is possible in this life, from what I can tell.
And I realize that my Goals Poster from this year – and basically my entire life, now that I think about it – is all about me doing. Accomplishing. Achieving. Improving. And my favorite moments of this year – and basically my entire life, now that I think about it – are all about me being.
And yet every year I swallow the lie that reaching the goals I set out for myself will help me satisfy my deepest desires. That they will console the “inconsolable secret” that Lewis writes about. But I should know by now that they don’t. And they can’t. Because my desires are too deep – and rightfully so. The most epic personal and professional achievements are just not deep enough.
Every year I swallow the lie that reaching the goals I set out for myself will help me satisfy my deepest desires.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good thing to have New Year’s goals and resolutions. I think we should keep making them because God is honored and they keep us moving forward. But I know I need to just be more, instead of do more. And trust that He will use me immensely, and will provide me with the fulfillment I’m searching for. I know it’s there. I just have to do it.
Look back upon your 2015 and let me know if your experience was similar to mine. And consider putting more time and energy not into the goals and resolutions you make for 2016, but into what brings out the very best in you, and allows you to live out the reasons why you were created, and keeps you intimately linked up with the only One who can ever truly console that inconsolable secret we all have.