It is appropriate to take stock of 2020. Like every year before it, there were aspects out of our control. However, there were and continue to be much that is firmly within our power. Some questions we should ponder deeply are:
- Where did I grow and improve this past year physically and spiritually?
- Where did I draw strength in difficult situations and struggles?
- Am I more firmly grounded in my hope and faith in God, and if not, what needs to change?
After all, as Catholic Christians we must weigh everything with an eternal perspective. Matthew Kelly reminds us in his newest book, “Dig the Well, Before You Get Thirsty” of this important point.
“Our quest for ease and comfort is killing us, body and soul. Life is difficult. Anybody who tells you otherwise is not to be trusted.”Matthew Kelly
I am currently reading the book. Like most things, it came at the perfect time that I needed it. This book is a unique combination of inspiration, motivation, prayer journal, and a method of discernment. It is an easy read. You may instantly think, “I don’t like to journal so it’s not for me.” Consider this, when we take time to journal, we are better able to discern various patterns over time which help us identify our values and character. Additionally, we can look back and note any progress or pitfalls. It is simply a means of measurement, so do not let that dissuade your desire to move forward to rediscover yourself and the habits that either help or hurt your progress. The real effort comes in the required work that is necessary to discover the best version of ourselves. Included is a section called, “Twenty-one Questions” designed to get us thinking. For example, “What needs to be on your not-to-do list?” Or “How do you want your life to be different one year from now?” Or, my favorite, “What is on-hold in your life, and how would addressing it change your life?” In the step-by-step discernment process, you will learn how to listen more attentively to God and to discern His Will for your life.
“When we lose our connection with the Divine, we go mad.”Matthew Kelly
I highly recommend it, especially as we close out 2020, but more importantly as we begin each new moment of the rest of our lives.
Matthew Kelly is fond of saying, “Our lives change when our habits change.” This could not be truer, and I think we realize this at our very core. Breaking bad habits and forming good healthy ones takes time, discipline, and effort.
What does it take to move from a mediocre version of ourselves, one that trudges through life, neither hot nor cold about anything, not unhappy, but not passionately on fire either; to becoming someone that naturally exudes a positive energy and faith, joyful, self-motivated, and possessing an inner peace- despite outside circumstances to the contrary? I believe we all want to be the best version of ourselves but often settle or “feel like” we are too busy, too tired, too lazy, or too distracted, to even consider it. Perhaps it is easier to think we were not dealt a great hand, rather than to become all that God desires and equips us to be. Look at our Blessed Mother Mary as a example of a human like ourselves who allowed God to form her into her best self which continues to bear incredible fruit that impacts humanity for all time.
Is there a mystery to becoming the best version of ourselves? Is there a secret map or formula required which is only available to some people? No. It is obtainable to all of us. I read somewhere that when you are not sure what to do next, simply take “the next right step.” We are all capable of that. If we are spending too much time with friends who bring us down or lead us into negative behaviors, the next right step is to lessen or end that relationship for our own well-being. That may seem harsh, but what are we willing to do to become our best self? What needs to go or to change for that to happen?
God is always speaking to us through various means, are we listening or paying attention? We let so many distractions drown out the voice of our Creator. “Learning to hear God’s voice in our life throughout the day is like having the ultimate friend, coach, consultant, advisor, and teacher always at your side.” There is no wiser, more inspiring, or all-knowing friend than the One who brought us into existence.
I wonder if we are sometimes fearful at times of what God might ask of us. We need not be. That is the whisper of the evil one, and fear is one of his greatest weapons. God would not ask anything of us that would not bring us great joy and happiness. This I know first-hand and He continues to equip me to do things I never imagined. Matthew Kelly further asks us to ponder a deeper meaning and God’s voice through questions like these, “What is God saying to you today…through other people, or the emotions you are experiencing?”
We can have mixed feelings when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions. We are not limited to the beginning of each calendar year to start anew and intentionally move in a direction toward an improved physical and spiritual well-being.
Each new day is a new beginning to either stay on the same mediocre path or to seek excellence.
Don’t be afraid to take the next right step in becoming the best version of yourself so that six months from now you will see a notable difference in yourself, in your relationship with God and others, and you will have the satisfaction of making positive strides towards the best you ever.
With God’s help, I will strive to become the best me possible. This path ultimately leads us to becoming a saint which is our goal after all. God will bless any efforts we make as we move closer to that amazing destination.