And we’re off! Last week we celebrated a new year, new you! This week let us rejoice in the new year and new beginnings as we place our hope and trust in Jesus Christ!
The end of a year is a beautiful time to celebrate new beginnings and spend time in prayer and reflection. Most likely, this past year has been a difficult one for you. Some of us may have struggled financially, while some of us may have endured feelings of isolation and separation anxiety from our family and friends, impacting us emotionally, mentally, and physically. Or perhaps you or a loved one battled health issues. I may not know your specific circumstances, but it is most likely that many of us experienced some form of fear, grief, and uncertainty in 2020. But whatever your experience was or is, I want you to know that you are not alone.
I want to encourage you as you reflect on the past year, to take a moment and know that God is with you. The plans He has for you are to bless YOU and comfort YOU and give YOU hope for a better tomorrow.
“For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 AMP
I realize it may be difficult for you to reflect on the past year, certainly if your experiences brought you pain and grief. I want to recognize and congratulate you for taking steps to move forward despite your circumstances and challenges. Take a moment to acknowledge where you are today and what you are feeling at this very moment. Your feelings are valid, and no matter how much we may wish the new year will erase the past, it won’t. So, today, start where you are, and know that where you are at this very moment does not have to be where you will be forever.
This week let’s take the next step to move forward. Let’s put our faith in action. Let’s reflect on what worked, what did not work, and prepare for our next step. Remember, it’s your journey. Take it as slow as you wish and allow God to lead you step by step. Here’s to new beginnings!
What worked? Did you reach a milestone in your career? Were you able to check off an item on your bucket list? Did you snag a job offer in the middle of an uncertain job market? Celebrate those accomplishments, large and small! Your hard work and perseverance paid off!
How can you celebrate your accomplishments? Create a collage illustrating your achievements and display the collage proudly to remind you of how far you’ve come in your journey. Or start a photo book showing the progress you’ve made, which by the way, is a great way to hold on to those special moments and memories.
And, while you’re taking time to reflect on 2020, take time to write out (journal) how you achieved your goals. List or outline the action steps you took to reach your goals and include notes on how you overcame the challenges along the way. Did you overcome obstacles with the help of your connections, perseverance, or did you have no other option but to work hard to overcome the difficulties you faced? Journal your journey.
As you write, think about why things worked out the way they did, what action you took to make it happen, and how you can transfer this success to another goal. If you developed and maintained healthy relationships in 2020, was that because you improved your communication skills or spent time reaching out to family and friends in need? Or did you build community online? Can the techniques you used be applied to a current work issue or work relationship?
It’s essential to your progress to build on what is working in your life. It won’t always be easy, but it will be so worth it. And, as you create your goals for the new year, lean in. Lean in to your strengths and talents and your successes to create the future that you desire. Don’t settle. Don’t allow fear to stop you. YOU have a choice, and the choice is yours, so do the work.
“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” Philippians 4:13 AMP
What Did Not Work?
Let’s all take a minute and confess that there were probably some moments in 2020 that did not go the way we thought they would go – no shame in admitting what did not work. If anything, these moments allow us to pivot and embrace the change. It’s not the time for us to resist the change or sweep our failings under the rug. It’s time to fully embrace the opportunity to make changes or shift direction. I genuinely believe our failures and flops can be our greatest lessons.
I have learned in my life (many times) that the valleys can take you to the mountaintop more than any number of successes. However, to move from the valley to the mountaintop, it is essential to spend time in prayer and reflection. Accepting the fact that, for whatever reason, your plan did not work out the way you had intended allows you to put into perspective an honest view of what worked and what did not work. This exercise on reflection offers you valuable insight and the opportunity to move forward without making the same mistakes.
Hindsight, 2020 was hard. We/I dealt with many unexpected situations. To be honest, there have been many challenging moments throughout our life. But I am grateful for the opportunities that allowed me and my family to grow through our circumstances. From my experiences, when you survive the valleys, you are thankful and humbled for the mountaintops. It took many years of struggling to understand that things don’t always work out, doors close, and there will be hard times. However, these situations always bring me closer to God, and for that, I am thankful.
As I journey through life, I know that I do not want to spend my time and energy trying to make things happen that aren’t meant to be. As my husband reminds me, “Rob, don’t force it. If it’s meant to be, God will open the door.” Hard to hear at times, but so true.
Are there doors you are attempting to force open? Do you have plans that did not work out, and you are relentlessly hanging on? I want to encourage you to surrender “it” to God. Let go of what did not work and move forward to what lies ahead. Allow God to show you the way as you establish your goals for the new year. It’s a new day and a new year. Let’s look forward to what lies ahead.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians 3:13 AMP
What’s Your Next Step?
You know the dreams God has placed on your heart. It might be easy to stay in your comfort zone and avoid the challenges. But to live life in the fullness of Christ, you’ll need to press on toward the goal to win the prize. To do this, you will need to take the next step.
If you are planning a trip, what steps do you take to prepare for the journey? I personally take time to pray for my trip, and I will ask my prayer warrior friends to be in prayer for my trip. Spending time in prayer allows me to seek God’s direction. I’ve shared before that we prepare for our road trips by servicing our car, checking the tires, and putting gas in the tank. We input our destination into our GPS or Google Maps or Wave. So, why is it we tend to move through life with as little preparation as possible and then wonder why we do not feel fulfilled or living out our purpose?
When you approach a detour or a bumpy road, do you keep going, or do you stop due to the unknowns or rough patches? Look back over your journal reflections. What are the circumstances you overcame? How did you overcome the obstacles? What steps did you take that led you to success? How can you apply the same principles to your current situation? The answer to these questions will be your next step. Perhaps your next step is prayer. After time spent in prayer, spend time thinking through preparation and planning for your next step.
Last week, we shared the biggest hurdle of any journey is taking the first step, and then we must continue to take action to press forward since our efforts lead us to our desired outcome. We do not want to spend too much time thinking about the past. We must learn from our past, but to dwell on the past will only hinder our progress.
This year, I hope you’ll join me as we press on toward the goal to win the heavenly prize. I have my eye on the prize, the call of God in Jesus Christ. Won’t you join me?
“Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [a]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 AMP
Let it shine!