Transitions: a guide for looking at the rest of the year

2020 has been a completely crazy year. I don’t think any of us could have imagined what this year would hold and yet I’ve found myself looking at the rest of the year with hope, not that things will go back to normal, but that I can live well throughout whatever comes. This is not something I can wait out, frozen in place. This is a place to cultivate.

My kids have been my greatest inspiration actually. They work hard and they play hard. My five-year-old can now ride his bike without his training wheels; he rode on an 8 mile trip on vacation. He learned to come up for breaths when swimming underwater. He’ll be reading soon. I keep reminding all of them that they have to practice. Practice math, practice swimming. Practice being kind. Practice listening. None of us will wake up one morning the person we always hoped we would be, the person that reflects the true humanity found in Jesus. We need practices and we need to practice.

Sometimes, when I’m thinking about ordering my life, I’m tempted to imagine a different and entirely fake life. I can design an amazing plan for an imaginary person. It might be fun, but it doesn’t help me at all since I’m not writing fiction currently. I’ve learned to reign my imagination back to my own embodied life: a woman who lives in rural Kentucky with her husband and four sons. I want to put my imagination to work where it matters- in my actual life.

I mentioned a guide for planning this transition to a fall season on Instagram and there was interest, so here it is. Work through the questions; pray for wisdom; remember that your life will look different from everyone else’s.

What do you have to steward?

Matthew 25:14-30

Please note that the servants who were commended were commended for being good and faithful, not famous or rich or popular or comfortable.

Be detailed but only include essentials. What is the work that God has put into your hands for the rest of this year? Make a list!

What can you lay down?

Hebrews 12:1-2

This might be sin. But it could also be something that’s not inherently wrong that distracts you from running your race. The aim is to run with endurance (and joy!).

What are you doing for reasons other than God has given you that work? Are you searching for approval? Are you unmotivated to put it aside? Search your heart.

What needs to be cultivated?

Luke 13:6-9

Where do you need to dig in and fertilize a portion of your life that’s currently not bearing any fruit? This might be a good place to ask a trusted friend or mentor.

Where can you do good for others?

1 John 4:16-18, James 2:14-26

We show God’s love through our actions. Scot McKnight said “Good works are concrete responses to the needs we see in our neighbors.” (From The Blue Parakeet) Where can you get involved in a need? It might be in your community or through giving money to an organization that works across the globe.

Once you’ve answered the questions, I want you to do two things.

First, you’re going to pick a practice. This is how you participate in becoming the person God is calling you to be. What practice can you cultivate in your life in the rest of 2020? Maybe it’s sabbath. Maybe it’s prayer or reading the Bible. Maybe you need to go to counseling. Maybe you need to ask someone about discipleship. Maybe you need to practice adding silence to your life. Maybe it’s a different spiritual discipline.

Write it down. Think about how it can fit in your schedule and be practical. Make a plan for it to happen.

Second, you’re going to set one goal. What is one thing you want to have done by the end of the year? Chances are, now that you have that goal, you need to cut it down. It’s too big. When I used to set goals, I would decide to get up at 5 am, work out for five hours a week, and start xyz. Don’t do that. Pick one thing that’s related to something that you already do. Break down how that fits in your daily life.

We are not here, alive in the kingdom of God in 2020 on accident. We don’t want to live on accident either.