Hello friends and Happy New Year! Welcome to 2024 and welcome back to my blog. For a girl that loves a fresh beginning…a new day, a new month and even a new year…well, starting 2024 on a Monday is just the best!! The clean slate and fresh start trifecta!!:) I hope everyone not only had a wonderful Christmas but is also feeling energized and expectent for this new year ahead. I thought it seemed appropriate to look back at last year (you know, the one we were in just 24 hours ago – lol!) as I began to anticipate this fresh year. But, to be honest, 2023 was a year I am rather eager to “put behind me” and move on. I want to start this year on a positive note and, at first glance, I found myself rehearsing all the negatives of my difficult year.
But something in me was determined. To look again. Not necessarily to find the (proverbial) roses hidden among all the (proverbial) weeds. Or to simply list the joys even in the tears – although I’m sure it (and the roses) are there. I not only want this post – and this blog – to be encouraging but I also want to start my year encouraged. With the best mindset possible. Mindset is key….and, with that in mind, I began thinking about lessons learned in 2023 and thought I would share just a few. A few lessons learned this past year that can impact the 365 days ahead of me and, at the end, a little look at my “hope” for this new year.
Don’t forget the big picture. I know the sayings. Be present in today. Take life one day at a time. And I appreciate the thought behind such advice. I often remind myself to do just that – which I will mention in a moment. But I would also remind you (and me) that each day is simply a very small part of a much bigger picture. Each day, each month and each season of life changes and moves on as quickly as the actual calendar seasons. Difficult life seasons will look different for each of us but, whatever hard, challenging, draining or gut wrenching season you may be in, remember the bigger picture. This past year does not define me and, as I turn the calendar page to 2024, I am already aware of so much that is behind me. Time has moved on and is bringing change and, prayerfully, a new season.
Of course, like many, I am easily impatient. I often want days, weeks and even entire seasons to be over. I just do. I know there is much to be learned (and even much to be appreciated!) even in the longest of seasons – which is why I remind myself to take life day by day – but when the nights are especially dark, I just want it be done. Remembering these times are just part of a much bigger picture helps me put life in perspective. A favorite Bill and Gloria Gaither hymn includes these lines:
My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upward,
This troubled world is not my final home.
But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.
And, keeping things in perspective helps me “carry on with joy”! The second lesson I’ll mention goes rather hand in hand with this first one, but it is worth noting on its own.
I’m not in control. I know. I know. That seems obvious but the amount of mental and emotional energy I put into trying to control…well, just about anything and everything proves that I need reminding. I try my best – with my health, with relationships, with many areas of life but at the end of the day, it is just my best effort. And despite my best efforts, so much is out of my control. I can no more control what everyone thinks about me than I can control whether or not cancer returns. Or a thousand other things that seem to threathen my joy and rob me of peace. And sleep. I can overthink, (overplan and overcomplicate) things like it is an Olympic sport but the last ten months have shown me what a waste of time, energy (and sleep) that is! I am not in control…but, thankfully, I know the One who is in control. I don’t say that flippantly. I sincerely know the Lord is in control. And I can trust Him. I do trust Him. But a reminder every now and again is a good thing. When I do, my blood pressure lowers. Sleep returns (do you see a theme here?) and life is not only peace-filled once again…but life is worth the living. Yes, I borrowed that from another Gaither favorite:) Because He lives…..and is in control.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!
This post is getting longer than expected. I think I will save my “hope” for this new year for Thursday’s post. I hope you will come back. There is much to anticipate and many reasons to be hopeful as we begin this new year. I pray that turning the calendar page has you encouraged as well. I will close with just as few more “lessons to remember” from this past year…..and hope to connect with everyone in the next couple days ahead.
Life is too short for comparison and/or people pleasing. I can do hard things. Hard things can be scary but I can have courage even when I am afraid. The right mindset makes ALL the difference. (This one is huge and should have had its own paragraph above….). The victim mentality is not the right mindset. Gratitude is key. Appreciate and love on “your people” but be willing to let me love on you, too. Except the help. Make no assumptions about time. Stay connected. And, I can do hard things. Oh, I mentioned that already – but it’s true. And you can too!:) Happy New Year!