Looking Back on 2018

This week, Dan and Becky Allender sit down for their annual conversation about ending a year well. In the constant day-to-day frenzy of our culture, when we are endlessly bombarded with media, news, and overflowing calendars, it is a vital spiritual practice to carve out time to stop, breathe, look at the patterns emerging in our lives, and listen for the prompting of the Spirit. What did 2018 hold for you and your loved ones?

Dan: “How will you end the year, and allow your heart to grow both in gratitude but also in wisdom about what you know at some level, but perhaps have not articulated, that Jesus was about with regard to your life?”

With their trademark vulnerability, Becky and Dan allow their own reflective process to serve as a template for the ideas they’re discussing: Becky shares about welcoming their newest grandchild; Dan talks about reviewing his calendar for the past 12 months and noticing a whole lot of bills for his aging body and their aging house; they both reflect on patterns in the year and share about the verse—Isaiah 43:19—that emerged as a Spirit-prompted theme. 2018 was also a year that saw new speaking opportunities for Becky and the publication of her first book—Hidden in Plain Sight—after decades of watching Dan be front and center.

Becky: “It’s just beautiful—a year holds so much.”

I think you’ll be set up to hold the year with far greater gratitude.

As Dan and Becky look back on their own year and encourage us to do the same, three guiding questions emerge:

  • How am I going to take in the year?
    This might mean looking at pictures from the year, or going month by month through your calendar and bank statements to recall the events, appointments, and meetings that made up each month. One of the benefits of our tech era is how accessible all that data is.
  • How do I metabolize that data?
    What are the themes that emerge as I soak in all that the past year held? What were the patterns, road blocks, gifts, and finish lines that I encountered this year When you spend time remembering, what lingers?
  • What am I hearing from Jesus?
    This is where spiritual practices—listening prayer, contemplation, meditation—are essential. As we sit with all the pieces of our year and begin holding themes and patterns, what do you hear being prompted in your heart?

Dan: “Where did your heart know real suffering? Where did your heart know joy, delight, honor? Where were you alive? Where did you find yourself in tedium and exhaustion? […] Holding a year means that you’re interplaying between gratitude and reflection, and asking ‘What do I hold that allows me to begin to take in what’s ahead?’”

And what happens next? As the year comes to a close and we do the work of remembering, noticing, and listening, where do we go from there? That’s where we’ll pick up next week, as Dan and Becky turn toward 2019 and discuss what it means to begin a new year with intention, wisdom, and courage.

Dan: “2018 has not been an easy year—complications, heartache, more suffering of many of our friends. More opportunities for The Allender Center and for us. All that’s good, hard, but who will we become in the year 2019? […] I think the world is getting more complex, more contentious and contemptuous, more suffering than I feel like we have known personally and corporately. In that context, I don’t want to bury myself in some kind of cocoon—I want to come out fighting. But that’s only going to happen through, at least as I’ve looked at the themes in my own life, greater worship, greater prayer.”