I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution enthusiast, but I love the coming of a new year with all its symbolism of rebirth and starting fresh. It’s a significant milestone or checkpoint—to look back on a whole year and reflect on what was good, what was hard, and what has changed since the beginning of it. It’s also a useful tool for evaluating what to carry over into a new year, what to discard, and what new themes to incorporate. This is much gentler and more flexible than a rigid “resolution” and therefore less likely to fail you in the long run.
A friend of mine asks God for a word for the coming year—to guide her spiritual journey and give her a focal point throughout the year to help her attend to her soul. My tradition is similar—asking God to help me categorize my year in a theme or two (for instance, 2016 was the year of waiting and of the unknown), then asking what God foresees the theme of my upcoming year to be. It gives me a good idea of what to look for and how to interpret events and my reactions to them.
If 2016 was the year of the unknown, 2017 was the year of hope despite some very known and bleak circumstances. This was a dependent, passive hope—reliant on employers, doctors, my husband, and ultimately, God to rescue me from those bleak circumstances. I felt that I was living my life at the mercy of the decisions and actions of benevolent others, and I grew disappointed, depressed, and eventually bitter when the provision and healing I hoped for did not come through. While this did not cause me to doubt the love or competence of those whose actions I waited for, it did stir in me new questions about my own activity, waiting, prayer, taking control, and letting go of it. Questions like:
- Just how active is our loving God in the midst of our pain and pleading? Does divine compassion merely mean emotional support, or does it also include intervention?
- What should I ask and wait for, and what should I just find a way to get myself?
- What must I give up on, and what do I need to pursue persistently?
- How do I keep my heart open and resilient in the face of disappointment? How do I prevent it becoming calloused and unyielding?
Those are the questions I’m bringing into the coming year. If any theme has arisen for 2018, it seems to be a new reconciliation of myself with my current reality (particularly about my health and finances) which will require two things of me:
- accepting what I cannot control or change, and
- taking more control over the few things I can change.
I will not be sorry to see 2017 slip away. Thank God for new years, new inspirations, new energies, new births. May they fill our hearts with the courage to start afresh today.