One of the hardest things for me is remembering what is most important in God's eyes. I will confess that I love the feeling of crossing things off my list. I even write things down after I have done it, even if it wasn't previously on my list, just so I can cross it off. (Sick, isn't it?) For me, a good day is one in which I have accomplished a lot. However, as I look at goal-setting through the lens of priority, things begin to change, for my priorities center on people and relationships, not tasks. My work for the day flows out of those relationships. This is something that I struggle to keep before me, as inevitably, the tasks seem to overwhelm my focus! (Just keeping it honest here.)
After my relationship with God, my husband and each of my children come next. As I pray over each of my significant relationships, I ask the Lord to help surface for me the areas of contention and healing as well as the next step in our relationship and how we can grow together.
For my husband and I, we work on defining these goals together because, after all, marriage is not just about me doing what I want. By His grace, we are just emerging out of a season of discord and struggle in our marriage. We have had to deal with some deep issues of disagreement, hurt, unforgiveness and pain over the past few years, and it hasn't been easy. But we also knew that even if it is difficult, like a splinter, those things needed to be dealt with lest deeper infection occur.
And so now, we are in a season of moving forward again. After a "winter" season in our relationship, spring is on the horizon. New buds of ideas for our future are starting to form. We are going to be facing some of our biggest challenges yet to come this year. First, we have our adoption. Adding a new child into the family is a huge stressor. I really can't imagine how it will be to add a new child who is older, has special needs, with whom I have absolutely no history, and with language barriers. Next, we have the challenge of remodeling our house, which is slated to begin by the end of this month! (Guess who will be doing a lot of packing up!) God provided us a place to stay during this time, so hopefully the process will go faster, but it is another transition. Add to this just the ordinary needs of our family, and we are in for a big year.
So, one of the biggest goals Daniel and I have for ourselves is the keep our Wednesday night date nights. We have found that if we take some time to write out some rough plans for each week, we actually look forward to them. We think through what are some things we'd like to do, topics we need to discuss, and then assign each to a week.
Most of the time, our date nights are at home. We don't go out every week. Besides being impractical and expensive, we realized that the main focus is spending time together, not going out. Instead of going out to dinner and a movie, we eat dinner with our kids and watch something from Netflix. Sometimes we make a plan to get dessert, either from the frozen section of the grocery or for a special treat, our favorite restaurant. This week, we have planned to spend some time praying for each of our children and seeking mutual goals that we will work on together this year. We also plan to go through a book on marriage together each year. Last year, we read John and Stasi Eldredge's book Love and War. This year, we are going through Paul Tripp's What Did You Expect? In each of our dates, we seek to build up our marriage, our family, and simply to enjoy being together in a variety of different ways, and dare we say...have fun?
However, unless we keep an eye ahead for our future, it is easy to be near-sighted in our goals for our relationship. Another goal that Daniel and I have this year is to start actively pursuing new ministry opportunities together. We are sensing that He wants us to begin laying the groundwork for helping couples grow in their relationships with God and each other through a retreat ministry. We had our first retreat back in November last year and are gearing up for another one next month. Our goal is to do at least one retreat this year, if not two, so we are already on track!
For the longest time, we did not set goals for our marriage. We were so busy just surviving! But as the Lord has given us a vision for the future, we have then begun to move forward, not just maintain status quo. It has been an exciting journey for us, one that we trust is going to bless our children and others as well.
How about you? If you are married, where might God want to take your marriage this year? Ask Him and find out!
Tomorrow: Setting goals in our relationships with our children