Songs, books, headlines, movies: have you had your fill of the “Top Ten Whatevers of 2012”? Well, I hope you have room for one more and this one will get personal - so handle it with care.
How about “The Top Ten Stories of My Life in 2012”? That’s right! The Top Ten Stories of your life in the past year. Afraid you might not have 10 stories? Let me offer ten questions we all might ask to help frame our list.
1) What was the happiest story in the past year? What brought me deep-down-inside joy? What brought me serenity? peace? Who were the characters in that story? How did the story begin? Has it ended? With whom have I shared this story? What might I do to keep this happy memory alive in my heart, my mind and my memories?
2) What was the most spiritual story in my life in 2012? When was I most aware of God, of my Higher Power, my soul? What was my deepest moment of prayer? What occasioned it? sustained it? confirmed it? What’s the story of my spiritual growth this past year? If I belong to a faith community, how have I deepened my relationship with it? How have I shared my spirituality with others? What does this story tell me about my prayer life in the new year ahead?
3) What was the most selfless story of my past year? How did I sacrifice for someone else? What did I give up? In what way was I generous in serving others? Did I give from my excess or did I give until I felt the pinch? Did I go without for the sake of someone else? What did I receive in the giving? How might I be more generous in the new year?
4) What’s the most significant story of my making peace in the year behind me? What old grudges did I let go? What chips did I finally brush from my shoulder? What resentments did I broom from the corners of my heart? Whom did I forgive? Whose forgiveness did I accept? What differences and divisions did I help to resolve? What hard feelings do I carry into the new year - and how will I learn to let them go? With whom do I need to reconcile in the year ahead?
5) What's the most selfish story I recall from the past year? Did I prosper at the expense of someone else? Was there a time I put my own needs ahead of those around me at home or at work? Was my selfishness worth the effort, worth what ever hurt I may have caused? What have I learned about myself in this? What lesson have I learned about my relationships with others, especially with those I love?
6) What was the saddest story I have to tell from 2012? What happened that left me feeling wounded, empty, lost? Who helped me through that time? Who shared the burden with me? What did I lose in this story - and what did I find? Have I healed from the sadness or am I clinging to it? How can I reverence this memory without letting it run my life? Did I bring my sadness to prayer? Have I asked for the Lord's healing in my heart? in my mind? in my soul?
7) What story of beauty comes to mind from the year past? Something in nature? A concert? Watching a child grow? A wedding? A friendship? A work of art? A book or a poem? A vacation? A personal accomplishment? A touch, an embrace, a new found love? How was I grateful for such beauty? How did I share it? To whose experience of beauty did I contribute? Do I make time for moments of beauty in my life? Are my eyes open for beauty in the year ahead?
8) What’s the most unfinished story of my life in 2012? What are the loose ends that I need to tie up? What laziness has kept me from completing something I wanted and needed to finish? Are others waiting for me to bring this in? Am I waiting for others to help me? What still needs to be done - and how, when will I get to that in the year ahead? What peace, what happiness might be mine were I to bring some closure to this unfinished story? Or is this a story best left behind, one I need to let go of? How will this story end?
9) What was the story of the greatest change in my life in the past year? How did it come about? How did I adapt to it? What difference has it made in my happiness? my spirituality? my faith? my understanding of others and their troubles? If this change was difficult, how did I seek and accept help in living with it? If this change was a happy one, how have I shared it with others and allowed others to benefit from it? How does this change relate to others changes I’ve experienced in life? How does this change have power to shape the new year ahead of me?
10) What’s the story of new acquaintances and friends who became part of my life in 2012? How did I meet them? Did my first impressions of others sometimes change in surprising ways? How did these new people welcome me into their lives? How have I welcomed them into mine? How is my life richer for having these new folks in my life? How have I enriched their lives? To whom might I reach out in the new year?
I doubt that my “Top Ten” list or yours will make Dave Letterman's show or be published in magazines or online. Still, pondering these questions and looking at the year past with an eye to the year ahead might be helpful.
We all have a new year ahead of us and new stories to add to our personal histories. With God's help we write those stories and I pray that yours will be filled with faith, hope and love for you and all whose paths will cross yours in 2013.
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Posted by Concord Pastor at 12:00 PM