As news unfolds this week, there is hope mixed with uncertainty and suspense. A vaccine is rolling out but cases rise as a new variant of Covid spreads. Just when I want to rely on the future looking a certain way, uncertainty prevails yet again.
New Year’s resolutions feel ridiculous after a year that upended so many of our plans. What do we do with this milestone this year?
We recently saw the movie News of the World, which I highly recommend. Tom Hanks and Texas. Really, y’all, what’s not to love?
I read the book a couple years ago and loved it. The movie does it justice.
Its beautiful, heart-rending, and important. This year we can all identify with the losses of the two main characters. With the dangers they face in a hard, cruel world. And with the importance of relationship and connection.
It’s a must-see.
One main theme is about what to do with who we were and who we are now. Do we look back and hold it all or just keep moving forward in a straight line?
In some ways, a little of both is necessary.
While this year may feel like an anomaly, and hopefully it is, it still bears weight on what we are and what we will become.
It shaped us and will continue shaping us for years to come. Looking back on the past year has never felt so important.
Read on to see what that practice has looked like for me a couple years ago…
I hardly ever make it to midnight awake. Usually I roll over about midnight, disrupted by the rumble of a few fireworks, then drift back to sleep. The day dawns and I wake to find myself in a whole new year that feels just like another morning.
Except that most new years days I spend a chunk of time reviewing the last year. I took up this habit one year when we lived overseas and I spent a quiet, sunny morning going over Michael Hyatt’s 7 Questions to Ask About Last Year. I still remember the chair I sat in, it was that powerful.
Since that year, I look forward to reflecting every new year. Lest you be afraid this somehow leads to those resolutions, be afraid. Somehow, these questions and reflecting on the past year just naturally lead to revealing what’s important to take with me into the next year.
Maybe it’s also the coffee that kicks in about the same time, but I end up holding onto a few thoughts about what I want the next year to include, if it’s up to me.
Remembering is a funny thing. I lived a lot of life this last year, and forgot quite a bit of it. Memory to me feels like I’m holding a bunch of groceries at the grocery store like when I think I don’t need a cart. I can only hold so much and my brain just drops things that it can’t keep holding onto. Sometimes they are the right things, sometimes not. It can be startling what I forget and remember.
Why? Why do I remember some things and forget others? I’m not sure. But its a reality. Reflecting on the past year is a means to much grace and mercy. I look into the year and lay out the events and experiences before the Lord and myself and sift through them. Are there themes? Regrets? Disappointments? Joys? Always, yes.
This year, I stood back and looked and saw a year of great adventure and drama. As I sorted through it, I saw more clearly the reality I’ve felt as the year drew to a close. It was a roller coaster year…again. I’m ready for a little boring. A bit less adrenaline.
Extensive travel, romantic drama, medical issues, rich family time, and ministry to others defined our year. It was a good year. It was also a full year with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. So many good things but also a few very real, hard, new things to navigate.
In the middle of it, it has been easy, maybe even necessary, to just pack experiences in my bag of memory and do the next thing that needs doing. The problem with that is that I need to look up every once in a while and see the bigger picture, the distances traveled, the goals ahead, the victories and sorrows along the way.
Like a rest stop on the journey, I need the time to reflect so I can acknowledge God’s hand in it all, and recognize that He has been with me the whole way. That He sees and He cares even if it’s not all worked out, resolved, or better. I can have joy when I look back and remember what He did work out too.
What distilled over the course of my morning was that…
- writing is still very important to me. I regretted not keeping it up this past year. I need to make time to write.
- exercise took a back seat for different chunks of the year and that was necessary. It is now important that it not stay in the back seat.
- making peer friends in this season of life is challenging because of the many demands on life. I greatly value having good friends and I need to keep moving forward in cultivating friendship.
Notice there’s not a lot of specific goals. I don’t really have a word for the year. But, now I have 3 areas of life that I know are important to me that need some attention. It helps tie a tiny, imperfect bow on the past year and move a bit more confidently into a new year.
If you end of spending the time to go through this process, please share what came out of it for you!