By Marilyn Turk
Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I took the one less traveled by
And it has made all the difference. – Robert Frost
Are you tired of hearing about New Year’s goals or words for 2018?
Seems like the topic has been prolific for the past week or so. Some people knew what their goals or words were by the end of 2017, while others, like me, eased into the new year carefully, with the remnants of the previous year still hanging on.
Before I was ready to go forward, I had to look backwards. I needed to look at what I did last year and what I didn’t do. As the idiom goes, “Hindsight is 20/20,” which means it’s easier to see more clearly the events of the past, what went right or what went wrong, than it is when you’re in the middle of a situation.
But sometimes we have to look back even farther than one year to see where we’ve been and how we arrived at where we are. When we do that, we realize we’ve been on a journey of some type based on the decisions we made.
It is encouraging for me to know that I have made forward progress, regardless of the setbacks I had. As a writer, those setbacks can come in the form of rejection, low sales or bad reviews. But much as it hurts when those negative things happen, we can’t stay there. We have to get up and get going, whether it means starting over or altering our course. For a writer, that could mean sending a manuscript to someone else or revising a manuscript or working on a totally new one.
So the first thing I needed to recognize as I moved into this new year is what path I’m on. Would I be writing novels or novellas, plays, Bible studies, blogs or nonfiction books? Once I determined that, I could break down the goals into units and break down the units into time periods.
What I’ve learned is that God chose this path for me, and I’m trusting Him to lead me along the way, shedding enough light as I take each step to get me to the next place. He knows what plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and I don’t. The past has shown where his hand led me as I achieved some goals I planned and others I had never conceived before. Sure, doubts plagued me from time to time and tried to thwart my progress, but I know where those doubts came from, and they weren’t from God. My focus can’t be on my own ability. God will use me despite my ability if I’m just willing to follow his lead.
To follow, I must leave the past behind. As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
So, do you know what path you’re on or do you need to take a different one?