HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! WOOHOO 2023 here we come. This is where if this was a video fireworks would be going off and cascading down, while the popping of champagne corks and the clinking of crystal flutes could be heard in the background. I am all for celebrating benchmarks, but emotionally I am not sure I am ready for a party.
It is clear to me why this is. There is a lot going on and I am tired. But I am sure I am not the only one who will be glad to see 2022 come to a close. There have been so many times this year when I have struggled for the joy of my salvation to be ever present. The weightiness and serious nature of so many of my conversations of late are mind boggling. Here is just a sampling of actual conversations I have had over the past two weeks:
Cancer Job Loss
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Grief for loved ones lost
FBI Investigations Dying loved ones
Cybersecurity Issues Gender Identity Issues
NSA Conflicts of Interest
Defamation Torn Achilles
Unexpected Death Aging
Bankruptcy Total Home Loss
Winter Park Police Investigations Irresponsible CareGivers
Horrors of Ukraine Loneliness
Yes, the above are real topics and conversations that relate to real people. I made this list because I am confident you have your own list that has you weary and leery about the coming year. And I don’t even want to think about the demands that 2023 might create.
However, we have four days before we usher in a new year, and I must lean into what I know so that my emotions can catch-up and be ready to embrace whatever 2023 brings. This is where mental gymnastics can really help us without white-washing reality or doing the whole Pollyanna thing. What do we know?
- The Lord loves us far beyond our comprehension.
- The sin in our lives extends far beyond our comprehension.
- The challenges we face create pressure that can/should forge a better version of ourselves.
- The milestones in life (like a new year) are opportunities for reflection.
- And the Lord does not give us more than we can handle (assuming the Lord is our refuge and strength.)
By meditating on these truths, perspective can be gained, appreciation can be deepened, and hope can grow larger. Further food for the soul is nurtured by more rest and rhythm being incorporated more robustly.
With a new year comes, for some, that annual ritual of drafting new year’s resolutions. If you know me, then you know I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions. Lately, I have been more in the camp of love. When thoughtfully conceived and extending beyond lose weight and be healthier (not that these aren’t important), it seems like these can be a part of building a framework that then governs our choices for the coming year, which further defines the rhythm of our daily lives.
In preparation for this blog, I came across an article that was a great ah ha, but also startling as I became spiritually convicted that I had not previously had this thought. In her short article Meryl Herr, Director of Research and Resources at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, has a wonderful take on how we should approach the coming year. Here are the first two opening paragraphs with a link to the remainder of the article:
I’ve never liked making New Year’s Resolutions. It’s probably because I’m terrible at keeping them. So you likely won’t find me hitting the gym with renewed inspiration or cleaning out all the processed food in my pantry to replace it with kale chips and quinoa. I know myself. In a matter of days, I would be feeling guilty about skipping my workout and eating four too many handfuls of homemade Chex Mix. No thank you to the high bar and the bad feelings associated with not clearing it.
About five years ago, I started a new New Year’s practice. I grabbed my journal, a highlighter, and a comfy blanket and settled in to do some reflection. I flipped through the pages I had filled, looking for patterns, key insights, and big lessons I had learned. I highlighted what seemed important. Then I listed what I found on a new page. And then I prayed. I asked God which of the patterns, insights, or lessons he might be inviting me to carry forward into the new year with more intention.
The approach of asking God to reveal what He might be moving me toward for the coming year is amazing and of course, that is what we should be doing. II Corinthians 10:5 says that we are to take every thought captive and this practice encourages us to do this.
So, what does all of this have to do with the laundry list of overwhelming things at the beginning of this post? New year’s resolutions, especially those that have been made before the Lord, can help to bring a new order to daily living. Meaningful order is a critical piece to keeping the heart and not allowing the fallenness of this world to overwhelm us.
May the Lord guide all of us in the ushering in of 2023 by His Word, by prayer, and by the of the Holy Spirit. And may His grace know no bounds as we strive for the joy of our salvation to daily be ever present and an undeniable witness to the love of Jesus.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!