“the end of a year is like the end of…life…in these last hours, the lifetime of this year passes before my eyes, and I face the inevitable question: Did I live it well?”
This is from the John Piper’s Solid Joys Devotional for December 31st. He goes on to note with encouragement that unlike our actual deaths, the next morning we will have a fresh slate to take all the insights of our “death” to make the next year better.
And yet, as much as asking “Will Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge, say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’?” has the right idea, I for one feel like more directed questions are helpful. So I’ve been thinking and reading a bit, looking for questions to look back on the last 12 months and look forward to the next. These questions attempt to help draw out insights from practical realities of day-to-day living. Here’s my stab and some questions and answers:
1. What did you give the most discretionary time, energy, money, and affection to this year?
2017 I gave a lot of time, energy, money, and affection toward my church community and my family, and less than before to non-church friends. I also gave a lot of time and energy, and even affection, to my phone and miscellaneous online pursuits. I spent less time reading than I have in the past. We also made a lot of big purchases this year after I started working–condo, furniture, home tech, car, disability insurance, etc.
2. For what you gave, what did you get? How would you spend time/energy/money/affection the same or differently in 2018?
I feel a lot closer to a few church friends than I did in the past, and I feel like Bill and my relationship has matured and is slowly making a transition from puppy love to something more steady. I don’t feel like the time I’ve spent on Instagram and Reddit and facebook has been well-spent for the most part. I wish I would have given more to non-church friends especially, who I definitely need to be more intentional about seeing. I also feel like because of the 2 months I didn’t work and the transition from residency to working, our finances are very messy and I want to be more organized about saving, giving, and investing financially in 2018.
3. What’s the most common strong emotion you’ve felt this year? What caused it?
By far the strongest emotion I felt this year was when we bought our condo. I felt very, very anxious. I remember when I wired the money for the down payment, I was shaking. It was honestly just terrifying putting so much cash into movement and thinking about what a huge decision it was, and how quickly we’d been forced to make it because of the nature of real estate in Boston. I felt very young, very alone (Bill happened to be very busy with work during the exact time we were closing and was still at the office) and just a general sense of this:
4. Is that an emotion you want to repeat? Why or why not? What can be done to make that happen?
No… but it keeps coming back anyway. It comes back when I think about how I’m a licensed dentist with patients trusting me to keep them healthy for life, when I think about being married until I die, when I think about having children in the future, when I think about paying a mortgage and car payments and student loans…
I think it might be called adulthood.
I think I’m realizing that the best I can do is prepare, do my best, and give the rest to God.
5. What’s something you feel proud of from 2017?
One moment I felt proud of was in February. My small group co-leader’s father passed away, and ten of us filled three cars and drove down to New Jersey together to go to the funeral. It’s a strange thing to feel proud of, but I felt so proud of everyone in our community for really being a family, for being willing to give up an entire Saturday to be present for our friend. I felt proud to be part of it, proud for whatever part I’ve played in building that community.
Something else I did, which I’ll probably write more about–I didn’t buy any clothes for the entire year!
6. What’s something you want to feel proud of in 2018?
I really want to write more consistently, to either finish a good chunk of a body of work, or to be able to point to a level of consistency and discipline that I’ve never had before.
That’s all for now. Happy New Year!