For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
In addition to ways to bless others, some of you may be spending this time of the year thinking about your life this past year…with a tinge of regret. Or you may be like me and simply thankful to have made it through with your sanity intact. I’d like to share three questions that have changed my perspective on my life and, most importantly, my relationship with God this past year: “Who am I?” “What do I want?” and “Where have I been?”
- Who am I? – More than the others, this forced me to be honest about who I was spiritually, relationally, emotionally, physically and professionally. Regardless of my achievements or failures, I was reminded that who I thought I was always had to be asked in relation to what God said about me. Psalm 139:14 backs this up when it says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
- What do I want? – I think the phrase that I uttered the most this past year was “I want things to be different.” I had to make sure that the changes were made gradually (which allowed me to learn patience). This could have meant something as insignificant as different clothes or trying out different food. In the case of clothes, I learned a dual lesson: even if they make it in your size and you see others wearing it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s meant to be on YOUR body. In other words, find what fits you best. Psalm 37:4 encourages us to “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Where have I been? – This proved to be a tough one. There was always the temptation to leave out key details of those places (good and bad) in order to make my current situation seem better. But the fruit of poor decisions always gives the story away. Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy still covered me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
What does all of this have to do with Christmas? As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, rather than spending money on things you don’t really need, give yourself a gift that truly keeps on giving. Start by asking yourself those three questions. A guest minister at a church I attended years ago said that It’s because of God’s great love for us that we should love ourselves enough to give the best gift we can give anybody: a healthier emotional state, renewed mind and restored relationship with God.
Shewanda Riley is the author of the best seller, Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After A Relationship Ends. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.