Pause

January 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

When I was younger, movies like Terminator 2 were released in theatres. I know I shouldn’t have seen them at my young age, but with two older brothers, it was inevitable. Probably to my parents’ frustration, I made sure that I was able to do many of the same things that my older brothers could. I remember repeatedly begging my parents to let me watch the same movies as Dave and Brad.

So probably around 1992 or 93 I saw James Cameron’s vision of dystopian 2029 where Skynet battled against a human remnant in T2 on VHS.  That world seemed so horrible, so bleak, so removed, so impossibly distant from the world that I knew.

Forgetting the horrors Cameron depicted in his world, parts of T2 seemed so foreign to me just because it was set in 2029. What would my life be like then? What would I be like as an adult? What would my family be like? 2029 felt like a distant future where spaceships and cyborgs actually were possible.

The arrival of 2011 seems significant to me. When I say 2011 I say “twenty-eleven.” This is the first year of this millennium that I began to speak this way. Each time I say the date it feels like I’m in the future. 2029 feels a lot closer now than it did when T2 was released.

It’s often very easy for us to have this feeling. We stop for a moment and we marvel at how quickly time has gone by. We can so vividly remember when that project deadline seemed weeks away and now it’s due in just 48 hours. Young people grow up so quickly and leave their homes, leaving their parents reeling.

I know this phenomenon happens to me very frequently.

I also know that it can be a healthy exercise to take a step back in life.

To pause.

To evaluate yourself and your surroundings.

When I say, “Pause,” I’m not necessarily suggesting that we do nothing. Instead, I propose that we take a little bit of time to evaluate how things are going in our lives. Look back at 2010 and consider what went well, and maybe what you’d like to improve upon. Examine your life goals and discern whether or not 2010 helped you get closer to accomplishing those goals. Try to think of any obstacles you might have faced in 2010 that made it difficult for you to accomplish what you wanted.

In order to get your mind started, I’ll show you some of what I’ve come up with as I’ve paused this New Years.

Highlights of 2010 (Just a few)

  • Completing a full calendar year of church ministry. 2010 was my first full year of ordained ministry and it was quite an exiting year. Completing one year of ministry might not sound like much of a highlight to some people, but it was an incredibly educational year for me. I had no idea how good it feels to be able to say, “Last year when I tried this event…” Now I know that I will still face many uncertainties in the days ahead, but it has been a major comfort to know that I can survive a year of ministry and really enjoy it, too.
  • Doing a ton of reading. I read many good books this year. Emphasis is on “good” not “many.” The books I read this year had a real impact on my day-to-day lifestyle. Donald Miller’s A Million Miles and a Thousand Years made me really think about the choices I make while Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy was some of the most memorable and engaging fiction I’ve read. The books I read this year were constant companions that made me a better person for having read them.
  • Going on an epic road trip through Central Canada. As I grow in age my love Canada seems to grow in proportion with it. Every time I visit Canada I become more convinced that it truly is the undiscovered gem of North America. I could go on and on about our Northern neighbor. So a ten-day trip with my brothers and their wives in Canada was the ideal way to spend a vacation. My brothers and I have a goal of getting to every Canadian province. Because of our trip this last summer, we now only have Nunavut and Newfoundland.
  • Getting a handle on finances. Toward the end of last year Sara and I took a Financial Peace University class at our church. It totally revolutionized the way we view and use money in our marriage. Even with very, very expensive basement issues this year, we’ve made significant headway with our assault on debt. It feels great to have a financial game plan that we both are committed to.

Improvements for 2011

  • More writing. I absolutely love the fact that I got my blog going in 2010. I want to keep it up this year and write more consistently while also working on my science fiction novel that has been hibernating for the last 3 years. So hopefully in 2012 when I am writing about 2011, I’ll have significant progress to celebrate.
  • Continued reading. I love how often I was able to read last year and I would like to make it a priority to continue doing so in 2011. As much as I love reading fiction, I want to also include more nonfiction than in the past. I’ve been working through a book called How Everything Works and I really want to finish that this year.
  • Get in shape. Cliché, I know, but Sara and I joined a gym in December. When I discovered that I can read youth ministry magazines or large paperback books while sitting on the exercise bike, burning 400 calories, working out was revolutionized for me. I can read for an hour and burn fat! An iPad would be perfect for this. Birthday present maybe?
  • Ride in RAGBRAI. Every summer there is a week where thousands of people ride their bikes across the entire state of Iowa. I couldn’t fit it into my schedule last year. I want this year to be different. Hopefully all those nights in the gym will pay off.

This is just an abbreviated example of what I mean by taking some time to pause at the start of this year. These lists weren’t exhaustive by any stretch, and I didn’t list any life goals and obstacles I face in striving to achieve those goals. If you want some help with thinking more about this sort of stuff, Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, has some great tips. Check it out here.

So what about you? Take some time to pause before this year starts to slip away from you. What were some highlights of 2010? How might you like 2011 to look instead? Let me know what this experience of pausing looks like for you.

Austin

Posts Twitter Facebook

I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.