Friday, January 1, 2010

Goals and Gratefulness

So how did everyone go with achieving their goals for 2009? I did everything on the list of things I wanted to do. There was not a single goal I had for 2009 that was not completed.

Mind you, it helps if you only have one goal.

Mine was to stay alive.

You see, last year – actually, make that December 2008, as I am writing this on 1 January 2010 – I had a big health scare. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I thought there was a possibility I may not live through 2009. I would like to point out that I am perfectly healthy. It was either some health professional scaring me for no reason, simple human error or possibly a miracle. I like the last explanation myself.

The point of me telling you this is not to point out how fantastic it is that I am alive. The point is to remind myself of how fantastic it is to be alive. Because the simple truth is I had forgotten.

It seems strange that I could forget. Last year, when a good friend asked me what I wanted to do in 2009, I said I just wanted to live. It was a big thing for me – huge. I was terrified. Not of dying so much. But of leaving my children. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be around to watch them grow up.

And if someone had told me back then that I would have a bad Christmas this year, and that my son would be sick and I would miss church and no-one would eat my turkey lunch, I would have thought they were bringing me the best news I had ever heard. I seriously was worried I wouldn’t make Christmas.

All this probably sounds a bit melodramatic – especially as you know that I’m perfectly okay. And perhaps it is melodramatic. After all, nothing was actually wrong with me. But what I have written here is nothing compared to the actual thoughts that were running around in my head a year ago.

I was positive that if everything worked out okay, my life would be completely different. I would have a new appreciation for life and I would treat every day as a precious gift.

But I didn’t. I forgot. And sure, I try to thank God for what he has given me, but I don’t spend nearly enough time just thanking him that I am alive. Each day has become just another day, filled with the same worries and struggles as every other day. I very quickly started to take life for granted again.


In the middle of January, there are three words that I’m know I’m going to hear from both my boys – over and over and over again. Those words are ‘I am bored’. Because by then they would have been on holidays for a while and the initial excitement of their Christmas presents will have worn off. These are the Christmas presents that they have been asking for since October. Begging, pleading, circling them in catalogues and pointing them out in stores. And the looks of delight on their faces when they open them really are something special. But by the middle of January, they have forgotten all that. Their presents have become boring.

And it annoys me. But then I think I’m kind of the same really. I pray for things and am so grateful to God when he gives me the things I have been asking for. But that gratefulness is very short lived. Give me three months and I’ve forgotten all about it. I don’t know how many times I prayed during December for everything to be fine with my health. Many, many times. In fact, I was pretty much constantly praying from about the beginning of December to the beginning of February.

So why am I not now constantly thanking God? Why, in fact, did I completely forget all about it?

Because I’m human, I guess, and humans forget. As soon as one prayer is answered, we’re onto the next one.

Sometimes I wonder whether the reason God doesn’t answer more prayers is because we show such a lack of appreciation for the ones he does answer. I know I get very annoyed when I buy my boys something and the minute they have it their hands, they’re asking for something new.

Anyway, this year I have decided not to write a list of goals for 2010. Instead of writing down a whole load of things that I don’t yet have or have not yet achieved, I want to be grateful for what I do have. Although it’s good to plan for the future, sometimes it’s hard to really appreciate what we have when we’re always looking forward to the next thing we want. I think there also needs to be a fair bit of looking back, so that we can remember what we have gained, what prayers were answered, what goals were achieved and we spend at least some time being grateful for them.

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