Another year is winding down, and Of Life and Men is quickly approaching one year in existence. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journey I’ve been on this year, as well as some resolutions I am making for the coming year.

Reflections on the Last Year

Over the past year I’ve seen some awesome changes in my life, and I wanted to share some of that with you. I attribute these changes to a couple different things. One is definitely starting this site, and sticking with it for an entire year. Early on I got scared, didn’t think I could keep it up, and decided to quit. A couple weeks later I got a kick in the butt to not give up, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve benefited immensely from wrestling with difficult topics, asking God to help me work through my beliefs, and in the process, let him change me.

I was invited to a really unique “bible study” of sorts shortly after I started this site, and I don’t think it was a coincidence. Right after I decided I needed to flex my creative muscle and start writing again, God comes out of the blue and challenges me to grow in my faith. The overwhelming theme of my 2017 has been trusting God. With my life, with my thoughts, and with my fears. Here are a few areas of my life that he has worked on this year.

Resisting Anger

I’m not a particularly angry person. In fact, it takes a lot to upset me, so it’s interesting that I would grow and spend time in this area. It’s not so much that I’d lose my temper and act rashly, but I’d let things eat at me. I’d let stuff stew, get judgemental, and harbor resentment.

Then I read a book called Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, and it made me realize how I have no right to hold on to my offenses. So often I would think that I deserve to be upset. If someone has wronged me, or they’re just flat out wrong about something, then I can sit on my high horse and be upset about it.

Sometimes we convince ourselves that our anger is justified. Someone else is so wrong about a political issue, or a social justice issue, or whatever issue we’re so sure we’re right about, that it doesn’t even feel like anger anymore. It feels like being right! When we get to this point, then all that matters is being right.

This year I’ve felt God take those negative thoughts, and replace them with peace. With a feeling that life is too short to get angry. Like God is helping replace my selfish feelings with feelings that honor him.

Enjoying Work

One interesting side effect of drawing closer to God this year has been a change in my perspective at work. More than any other year in my career, I’m enjoying going to work. I look forward to the impact I can have on my students. For a long time I thought that no matter your job, it was probably going to be a chore to go there. Day after day, plugging along to get that paycheck, but no one really enjoys going to work.

I think God has changed my attitude dramatically. I’m not there simply to make it to the end of the day so that I can get home to see my family. I find myself enjoying my time at work. I’m not just surviving work, and I wish I had found this sooner.

Resolutions for the New Year

Sometimes I fear that when I write on here, I don’t come across as a work in progress. I don’t have everything figured out, but when I post and try to convey what I’m working through, sometimes I might sound very decided. Here are a few areas God is working on, and I’m looking forward to making progress this year.

Overcoming Divisiveness

It’s really interesting that I started this blog shortly after such a controversial political season (which, a year later, hasn’t gotten any better). I’ve seen Christians on both sides of the aisle become increasingly partisan.

I used to jump into an internet argument like it was no big deal. I could ignore the fact that there were real people behind the other keyboard, and I felt I was right about whatever the issue was, so I gave myself permission to argue away!

God’s been working on me and this issue for a while, and if you’re someone I’ve argued with in the past, then I apologize. I’ve started to realize that’s it far more important to seek reconciliation, and relationships, than to simply argue and be right. As the year has gone on, I’ve cared less and less about being right, and I’ve seen my focus shift towards being kind, and looking for open doors where deeper friendships can be had.

I’m making progress, but this year I want to continue to focus on how I treat others, and the relationships that I can build.

Trusting God

Another area that I’ve seen God work is trusting him. This one is really cool, and yet really scary at the same time.

I’ve trusted God in different ways, and I’ve seen some awesome things happen. I’ve seen that I can be used in ways bigger than myself. That he can open doors and opportunities that I wouldn’t see on my own. And that when I embrace those opportunities and relationships, something beautiful is born.

And what’s so interesting about the whole trusting God thing, and listening to the Spirit, is that it still scares me. Even after I see God working and doing amazing things in my life, I still have fear. What else is God going to ask of me, and do I really want him to ask that? I have to keep reminding myself to just let go of what I want, and trust that he has plans for me to prosper.

Here’s to a Great 2018

Whether your 2017 was the best year yet, or a year that you can’t wait to forgot, I hope that 2018 is a great year. A year of growth, peace, and understanding. A step towards loving relationships of eternal value.

For all the challenges that lie ahead, I pray you find the courage and strength to overcome. For all your hard work and persistence, may celebrations follow.

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Nathan Charlton
A husband and father of three, he is first and foremost a Christian, but will openly admit he doesn't have everything figured out. His passions include writing, spending time with his family, and any game by Blizzard.

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