The Year That Was

Over on we are challenged to consider some questions about 2009. I figured I would have a go at answering them here:

1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?

No question but an adventure. Fast paced, with some major challenges, but ultimately it all ended surprisingly well.

2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring? These can be single words or phrases. For me, they were:

Wondering again and again whether I had been foolish to take on the job of writing a book given everything else I do and my ignorance of grammar and other writing rules, not to mention the way my mind sometimes went blank and at other times produced too much waffle that looked as if it could never be forced into a structure!
Surprised gratitude for all the help I felt I received from God and a wealth of friends and family. Ironically, the supposedly solitary task of writing has left me feeling more supported than ever before.
Renewed thankfulness for my family life, work, and church. This was brought into fresh focus as the recession bit and I remained unscathed, and, also by the grace of God, our church’s very rapid growth bucked all the trends towards decline, or at best, a slow increase. Jubilee is just full of the totally unmerited blessing of God, as are other areas of my life. All-in-all I am more aware than ever before that I have received far more than I deserve.

3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of? These can be in any area of your life—spiritual, relational, vocational physical, etc. Be as specific as possible.

Actually finishing the book.
Working with my techies to finally update my blog design.
Getting promoted at work.
Succeeding in driving on the right hand side of the road with my whole family on holiday in France. Making it around the Arc de Triumph in Paris alive was truly exhilarating.

4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

Okay, like Michael, this is a little too personal for me to respond to directly. I have to say, though, I really struggled to think of any answers. Through church and the blog especially, I got more encouragement this year than many would have in a lifetime.

5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year? As leaders, we naturally have high expectations of ourselves and others. Where did you let yourself down? Where did you let others down?

Feeling that I didn’t make as much improvement as I wanted to in my most important responsibilities, those I carry out within family life. Please pray for me that my determination to do better in 2010 will remain strong, and that I will be more successful. I must not rob them, even to bless others.

Not looking after my body properly.

6. What was missing from last year as you look back? Again, look at each major area of your life. Don’t focus now on having to do anything about it. For now, just list each item. Here is my list:

Needed to spend more time praying.
More time reading offline (i.e., books).
Time to really unplug and not think about work. (many of these overlapped with Michael’s).
A proper health and fitness regime

7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year? Boil this down to a few short, pithy statements:

There comes a point in every experience where I am too far in to quit but almost certain I can’t finish. If I keep moving forward I will eventually get to the other side. (This first one is lifted entirely from Michael but expresses one of my most important lessons this year incredibly well!)

Winning the world but losing the battle for my family would be a disaster and I cannot afford to complacently assume that won’t ever happen. No matter how well things are going in that area, they can always be better.

There really isn’t time to do everything good that I want to do or be close friends with everyone I would like to. Ruthlessly saying “no” very often is essential or no one will get the best from me.

Wisdom really is given by God and the more I ask for it the more he will give. So why am I so foolish that I don’t ask more than I do?

Finally, I can’t improve on Hyatt’s conclusion to this exercise:

It took me about an hour to go through this exercise. But it was well-worth the effort. So often, life goes by so fast that we don’t take time to process it.
Now that you have your list, it is time to acknowledge the past and complete it. It’s over. There’s nothing you can do to change it. This is hugely important. What was done was done. It’s time to close that chapter and turn to the next one.
I suggest you write at the bottom of your list, “This year is over. I declare it complete!” Now double-underline it for emphasis.

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