By Kevin Howell
I’m finally starting to develop into what one would call a reader. I’m not quite an avid reader yet, but this past year I was finally able to finish several books in a 12-month period. This is quite an accomplishment because I have a pretty impressive book shelf full of half-read books. There are plenty of books I purchase or are given to me, but whether it’s because I lose interest or I find a more intriguing read, I tend to put them down before I get to the end.
I have a few new books on my nightstand that I’m looking forward to diving into and finishing this year. But maybe the most intriguing read I’m anticipating this year is my own story, chapter 2012.
Like many people, I have goals to begin the New Year. I like to simplify my new start into one theme, one slogan, and one mind-set to live by. This year, I want to live a better story… a more interesting one… a more meaningful one. Essentially, our lives are a book, and each year we write a new chapter. However, I get the sense that my life is sometimes like those half-read books on my nightstand — for some reason, just not interesting enough to keep reading.
Like anyone, I have my share of happenings and events that highlight the year, as well as life-changing moments that impact me internally, or drama and conflict that come up from time to time. But for the most part, the past few chapters have been the same. It’s time for a shake-up. It’s time for change.
Of course that can mean a lot of different things, from a career change to relocation, but for me, this year, it means taking risks, exploring new areas, and stepping into adventure. Now, I’m not a thrill seeker, so I won’t be jumping out of any planes, climbing any mountains, or auditioning for The Voice — though that would be interesting to see if Cee Lo would pick me for his team. For me, the best stories aren’t necessarily the stuff of action flicks, but rather they are found in the beauty and complexity of human relationships. I want to take the risk of exploring that area.
I want to meet new people, people different than me. I want to be the guy who starts conversations with strangers in Starbucks. I want to deepen the shallow relationships in my life. I want to know, intimately, the stories of those around me, and reveal to them the story I’m living. I want to invite people to be characters in my book, and become an essential character in their stories.
I say this because my role model and closest friend, Jesus, lived this type of life. He invited 12 ragamuffin strangers to live with Him, and journey with Him. He spent the most meaningful and documented part of His life meeting new people, serving them, and loving them on a daily basis. He took the time and effort to seek out hurting people, those who simply needed a friend, needed someone to take an interest in them, and needed to know they were important and worth His time and attention.
So why is this risky? Because it’s uncomfortable. It’s not something I want to do, or even know how to do. And it’s not something everyone will be receptive to. But it will make a more interesting story than one of mere personal goals and self-development. It will bring new characters in my life. It will bring conflict and it will stretch me. It will make me care more than I do, notice those around me, and step outside my personal bubble. It will make a more interesting chapter than the previous ones. And it will make my life story a little more intriguing, and worth the read.
What will your Chapter 2012 look like? What type of story will you live? Feel free to share your goals and your theme.
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