Next week will mark the fourteenth anniversary of my baptism.

Fourteen years. Almost a decade and a half since I formally accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and washed away the penalty of my sins with His blood.

For me, that anniversary is always a time for introspection and reflection—looking back on the last year and analyzing how I’ve changed in that span of time. Sometimes I even like to write about it.

Coincidentally, my daughter turns two years old tomorrow, which really drives home how blurry the past couple years have been for me. Two years? How? When did that happen? I thought we just brought her home from the hospital. I’m looking at pictures we took during the first month of her life, and it’s hard to believe she’s even the same kid. She has grown so much in just two years. It boggles my mind.

I wish I could say the same for me. I wish I could look at the last two years and point out obvious signs of my own growth and change, but I’m having a little trouble spotting them. Spiritually speaking, I’m concerned that today’s Jeremy might not be all that different from last-year Jeremy.

I don’t like that. I’m deeply ashamed of that. And I know—we’re all our own worst critics. It’s easier to see the changes in others than it is to see the changes in yourself. But all the same, the big lesson I’m taking away from this year’s introspection is how easy it is to coast.

I have excuses, sure. I’m a relatively new parent. That’s exhausting, sometimes mentally draining work. And this year has been an absolute tour de force of crazy. We’re all worn out from watching the world go topsy-turvy over a different issue every month.

But I know myself well enough to know that, for me, the important things are always the first things I let go of when life gets difficult or unpredictable. Bible study, prayer—real prayer, not the half-asleep mumbles that come right before collapsing into bed at night—fasting, meditation, all the important tools we have as Christians—I am so quick to hit the pause button on those when life undergoes any kind of significant shifting around.

Which is just insane. I mean, I know why I do it. Those things require the most effort, so they’re the easiest to throw overboard when I need to lighten my mental load. But they’re also the most important things. I need them more than anything else I’m keeping on the ship—and I know that, too. It’s a cruel irony that it’s easiest to sacrifice our connection with God in the moments when it’s most important to hold onto it.

My mind keeps coming back to my little girl—more specifically, the kind of dad I want to be for her.

I don’t want her to grow up with a dad who coasts. I don’t want her to grow up with a dad who puts the most important things on the backburner when things get hectic and overwhelming.

I want her to grow up with a dad who keeps making the effort, especially when it’s easier not to. I want her to grow up with a dad who keeps the most important things first in his life, especially when he doesn’t feel like he has the time.

She deserves that. And, let’s be honest, God deserves that. The blood that made me clean and the Spirit that guides me came at a high price.

And I guess that’s my takeaway this year. Not so much a reflection on what I’ve accomplished since the last anniversary, but a renewed dedication to shore up the things that have slowed me down. Next year, I want to be able to look back and say I’m closer to that goal than I am right now.

So I’m moving forward, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

There’s a lot more work to do. But I’m excited about the journey.

Until next time,

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