That’s a wrap!
The old year is behind us. Are you excited to embark on new adventures in a new year?
Between Christmas and New Year each year, I try to spend some time reflecting on the prior 12 months. Recollections brought heart-warming memories, satisfying recollections, and a few feelings of disappointment and discouragement. They helped me think through several life lessons for the new year.
I’ve shared with you many times that I’m somewhat of an “obsessive” thinker. It’s hard for me to let go of negative thoughts. My tendency is to dwell on the past and focus on the ugly. Yuck.
As I continually work to grow through that—to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and to reframe my thinking—one practice I work hard to adopt is that of writing down what I’ve learned from both good and bad situations. The process helps me keep my focus on Christ, knowing that He works all things together for our good. It helps me let go of my let downs and aim for the amazing things God has in store.
Since I know that your year was filled with good, bad, beautiful and ugly just like mine, I thought I’d share several practical life lessons.
Five Life Lessons For the New Year
I trust these lessons will encourage us both as we embrace the joy of the Lord even in our jumbled lives:
Celebrate the Little Things.
I set my sights high – pursuing big goals and lofty dreams. And that means I often overlook small victories. I’m learning to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. In rejoicing over even the tiny wins (like keeping my kitchen clean for 2 consecutive days or finishing an assignment on time), I find I’m more motivated to keep marching toward the bigger accomplishments, and I feel a lot more joyful in the process. (Consider Ecclesiastes 3:12 – “I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life.”)
Trust in God’s Good Plan.
Disappointments come daily. We all know this. Some are mild while some seem to punch us straight in the teeth. When I’m feeling the sting, I allow myself a short window of sadness while I cry out to the Lord. Next, I try to recall some of the wonders and tremendous goodness He has faithfully shown. This helps me move to a place of trust and anticipation for the goodness He will surely bring. Jeremiah 29:11 helps point my heart in a stronger direction: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I trust that His plan is good.
Aim for Excellence, Not Perfection.
A friend recently shared this verse: Ecclesiastes 7:16 “Don’t be excessively righteous, and don’t be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself?” Those are such wise words! Pondering the verse helped me evaluate my motivation for pursuing perfection – is it for the sake of righteousness? To prove myself worthy of God’s love? To bring glory and honor to myself? Perfection is not an attainable goal, nor is it pure in motivation. Instead, I’m learning to pursue excellence, which helps me avoid the feeling of failure and enjoy the satisfaction of doing my best and doing it all for His glory. (See 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Know God, Not Just Know About Him.
God gives us a hunger to encounter him, not just know about Him. I continue to learn to experience Him in deeper ways that He reveals and encourages in His Word. When I practice stillness before Him (Psalm 46:10), meditate on His Word and His ways (Psalm 1:2-3), and draw near to Him with the fullness of faith (Hebrews 10:22), I encounter His presence and there receive His fullness of joy. Our journey of knowing and encountering God will never be fulfilled on this earth, but striving to meet with Him and accept all that He has for us brings encouragement and blessing that fuels my passion for Him. I expect to share much more about this in the future.
Cling to My Why in my Lessons for the New Year
Why—the reason behind our work and purpose—is a powerful motivator. No matter the size of the dream, goal, resolution, or lifestyle change that I pursue, a why promises powerful impact. It propels my “want to” into “willpower” that will yield strong habits and healthy, joy-filled attitudes. When I cling to why, reaching goals feels easy, even during hard work, and immensely satisfying.
How About You?
Which of these life lessons resonate most with you? What life lessons did you learn in 2017 and how will you carry them forward into the new year?
Let’s step into the New Year with eager anticipation of what the Lord will do. Let’s use all that He’s helped us learn to let go of let downs and aim for amazing!