January is a cold, cold month for many of us. It surrounds us with bitter regrets, barren dreams, and frozen ambitions. So to try to warm ourselves up and motivate us to push ahead we often set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Even if those goals are attainable, we find excuses to snuggle around us and comfort our disappointment.
When I was in middle school, during the winter we got a lot of snow. Not just the bitter cold temperatures we get now, but actual accumulated snowfall. At times the snow was a good three feet high. My kids will roll their eyes at me and remind me that I’m old and those days are over. Won’t they be surprised when the next snow storm blows in, right?
Anyway, back then we had to dig ourselves out. We were expected to grab a shovel and little by little move what was blocking our path to where we needed to go. Granted, on a farm it was easy to take a tractor with a snowplow and clear out the driveway. Sometimes, though, the tractor couldn’t fit in all the spaces that needed cleared.
photo credit: Gerald Davison via Flickr Creative Commons
Life is much like a blizzard; it is always dumping something down on us. By shoveling to clear our paths we can only get stronger.
For the past few years, every time it snows our neighbor comes out and shovels off his sidewalk. He doesn’t stop until he’s hit our driveway. Sometimes when we are the first to pick up our shovel, we do the same for him. We don’t expect him to do that for us nor do we him, but it’s nice to know we can help each other.
As I’m looking toward warmer days ahead, I’ve already started making that list. You know the one, it’s all the things I want to do this year. I’m going to eat healthier, spend more time with family, finishing that big project, read more, go on a vacation, and the list goes on.
Without even realizing what we’ve done, all those things on our list get rolled up into expectations. We’re told to have an accountability partner to hold you to them. Are you sure all those things are necessary on your list. Maybe you are forecasting an even heavier snowfall to come this year. If that’s the cause you’ll need a few more accountability partners to help shovel out that path.
I’ve learned over the years through helping on the farm, seeking out a path which is still at times unclear, and caring for my own family how easy it is to pile expectations on ourselves.
This year, let yourself off the hook.
You don’t need to be everything to everybody. They don’t expect it from you. I know you want to turn those snowflakes into snowmen. I know you have good intentions toward your fellow man. I know you can… so you expect yourself to do it.
I know… because we are so much alike.
So ask yourself this, if you are the one to always carry the shovel and make the path then how will anyone else ever grow stronger? How will they know which direction God is leading them if you are always plowing the road ahead?
I thank God every day for my parents. While I may not have understood all those cold winters when I was handed a shovel or had to bundle up and go do barn chores. I understand now. They put expectations on me because they knew I could fulfill them. They handed me a shovel when there was a snow storm, but it was up to me to make the path.
This year, take hold of your shovel. Make your path as narrow or wide as you’d like to walk it. Those of us walking along side of you have our own shovels and we’ll clear the way beside you. I pray this year as you let yourself off the hook from overwhelming expectations, you would also make room on your path to invite God to walk beside you each day.
photo credit: Phil Roeder via Creative Commons
Feature photo credit: Stephanie Echeveste via Creative Commons