(Posted a few week late)
The new year is upon us, and as we say goodbye to 2015 in all the traditional celebratory ways (parties, fireworks, countdowns), 2016 is ushered in with excitement and anticipation in the hearts of people all around the world. I love that we can look forward to a new year no matter how the past year has treated us. I believe the human soul has a limitless potential for hope, regardless of how many times we’ve been hurt.
I hope this past year was the best year of your life yet. However, I know that for too many of us it was not. 2015 was a very difficult year for me, as I experienced many confusing and painful emotions. A long and dark winter gave way to a stressful spring, where I worked at applying to the teacher education program while balancing my most demanding courseload yet and preparing for a mission trip to Ireland. That mission trip was emotionally taxing as my team and I tried to speak words of life to many different people who had no hope. The summer was spent preparing for my sister’s wedding at our home, which, while it was a beautiful day in which Christ was glorified at the joining of two lives who exalt Him, still was consuming and exhausting with emotions that bordered on devastating. I gained a cherished brother-in-law, but I also had to figure out how to let go of my only sister and embrace change that all too often seems like a cruel enemy. Fall brought a busy semester with evenings full of classes and studying, leaving no time for friendships and fellowship. I was left to deal with loneliness that threatens to be a constant companion. Being separated from like-minded friends led to a season of confusion and depression, in which Satan got ahold of my mind and heart. He began to wreak havoc in my thoughts and emotions, and as the days got shorter so did my joy. Everything I thought I knew and believed was shaken and what followed were weeks of violent panic attacks and crippling anxiety. Darkness seemed to spread to every part of my world.
So following a year that was mostly painful and bleak, one can’t help but look forward to a new year. What do we have if we don’t have hope? Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes with the morning.
Change is the theme on everyone’s minds. A brand new year is before us, clean and free from any mistakes. The beginning of a new year is a seemingly perfect time to start afresh. But mistakes are bound to happen. We will slip up. I urge you to take every opportunity to change, to admit that you are wrong. Be it the beginning of a new year, a new month, a new day, or mid-sentence when you decide to throw your pride to the wind and make a change because life is too short to live knowing you are doing something wrong but choosing to do it anyway. (I know that was a run-on sentence, but it gets my point across 🙂 .) I hope we can all wake up to the fact that change is hard, but it is important. And we have the strength to do it. Maybe it’s giving up an addiction. Maybe it’s spending more time with your kids. Maybe it’s deciding to live a healthier lifestyle. To be more patient, to love better, to be more hopeful—whatever your resolution for 2016, I hope you know how strong you really are. God has given you everything you need to make that change. No one else can do it for you.
My resolutions for 2016 and beyond are to be more vulnerable with people, realizing that sharing life with others is what makes us human. To take every day as it comes, seeking God anew with every sunrise. To live free from fear that lurks beneath the surface, trusting in what God has promised me. To see every person as a beautiful creation of God, someone who needs love and grace. And to, at any point, take the opportunity to make a change in my life.
I hope you’ll join me in making 2016 more hopeful.