By Mathew Peachment

The New Year is often a time of reflection for many people as they look back on the prior year, and look ahead to the upcoming year. For many, the past year is either one to remember because it was great, or one to forget because life hit hard. Life generally has some people feeling as if they would like a do-over, but do we actually sit down and reflect on what happened? Are there changes that I can make to my life now so that things can be better for the future?

That’s what reflecting on the material from the first Encounter allows, especially if you choose during a time where it’s natural to reflect on the New Year. The CREST curriculum provided in Encounter 1 gave over 50 questions to reflect on the material presented allowing each of us to go deeper. Some of the topics to reflect on are:

Life events, both the positives and negatives and addressing how I look at them. Do I need to reinterpret the experiences in my life?

Identifying and addressing boundaries. Do I have the correct boundaries in place in my life, and where could I be needing to add some?

Whether I need to add ‘rules’ to my life. Where are the places I’m experiencing misery and are there rules I can put into place in my life to prevent the misery from happening again?

Additionally, it’s time to work on the assignments from Encounter 1. The interesting part of the assignments is that not only are they geared to the material and required to actually receive the certificate at the end of the program, but they are also a time to look at how you are living your life and reflect on it. They aren’t an academic or theoretical exercise as they are designed to actually be implemented in life. One of the assignments, Misery Point Rules, is specifically designed to actually create rules for my life I can put in place the moment I write them down.

It’s up to me on how deep I go with the reflection and the assignments. I have to decide how much I want to get out of this program. It’s not always easy to reflect on life and I must admit that reflecting on my life is a difficult process for me and one that I know I can get much better at and go deeper with. CREST is providing the opportunity with ways to begin to practice reflecting on my life.

At the first Encounter we were encouraged to make journaling a regular part of our lives, and especially for our time in CREST. For some, this was a new practice, while journaling for others was already a regular rhythm. It’s a practice that I’ve been working at implementing in my life, and it’s a way for us to be much more reflective about our lives and what God is doing in us. We received both a lined journal and The Cornerstone Journal as a way to work on different types of journaling. The lined journal is specifically just to write and reflect and The Cornerstone Journal gives space to create goals, to reflect with daily gratitude and prayer in a more structured format. This helps to build daily and weekly practices that are evident in the reflection and assignments CREST provides.

CREST is also intending for this to be a collaborative experience to do life together with the other people in the cohort and a highlight after Encounter 1 was an online meeting where we all got a chance to see each other and give a quick update on life and how each of us was progressing. It was great to see everyone, to catch up, and I look forward to connecting with each of them in more depth at Encounter 2!