But as seasons were meant to, they have endings. And today is the ending of 2014. And I part with it in peace.
Reflecting on last year helped me see what worked and what didn’t work. Not everything worked as wished, but neither was it all bad. There were things worth celebrating. And I can take a lot of lessons with me into 2015.
And especially this year, it helped me see God’s fingerprints in my life. Things I hadn’t noticed through the year, kinda crystallized into a pattern of something that God is doing in my life. That is awesome! And of course, it helps me leave the year as is.
Accepting my reality simply means that I won’t try to deny life happens. Sometimes in a way you wish it didn’t. But accepting it means I can come to peace with it. What happened, happened. The choices I made that didn’t work, well, they are history.
In those instances where we don’t accept our reality, they become anchors we drag with us as surely as the instances of denial. In fact, they are a form of denial. And being a bit of a dreamer myself, denial is fairly easy.
What accepting reality doesn’t mean though, is that our last year’s experience is who we are. Our identity is not what we’ve done, or what we haven’t done, as much as who God says we are. And when we see the failures of last year, we need to remember that.
The failures are simply lessons to be learned from. And the lessons we take with us into the future. But the actual failures need to stay behind. They don’t define you or me. God’s truth does. Who He has made us to be does. That He created us in His image defines our future more than our failures ever will.
Some of us have experienced hurt by others this last year, or even before that, and the pain is dragging with us through life. It will continue to, until we can forgive. Not forgiving is like tying ourselves to the pain with a chain and dragging it along as part of our identity.
I found myself excusing my company’s financial performance this year because of a client going bankrupt on me at the end of last year. It was the story I would bring up every time performance became the topic. And when I saw that, I realised I needed to forgive that wrong.
It is true, the financial loss hurt. And it created additional challenges. But I needed to stop telling the story, and just push ahead, with the lessons I learned from that experience.
We also need to celebrate the good things that happened last year. When we celebrate the good, it helps us put the rest into a better perspective. And that helps us accept the year as is, and allows us to lay the year to rest.
After we celebrate the good, we need to let go of those achievements. Achievements don’t define us any more than failures do. If they do, they will get you stuck in yesterday’s moment of glory. Again, what God says about you, defines you more than your achievements ever can.
Maybe this will sound strange to some of you. But I encourage you to edit the story of last year before you take the story with you into the future. I don’t mean to deny parts of last year happened. I mean that you re-frame it in your perception of it.
Let the failures lie. Don’t tell that story. Tell the story of the lessons learned. Leave the wrongs behind, and tell the story of forgiveness and grace you learned. I think the stories we tell of our past are just as appropriate to edit and re-frame as the story of the present.
Tell the story that is good, and true, and honest, and praiseworthy, and gracious, and forgiving, and full of hope, and faith, and God’s goodness… Get it? We focus on what we tell. Tell the things worth focusing on.
And finally, set some actionable goals for next year. Don’t just drift into next year. Nobody ever drifted into their purpose or their dream life. Plan your next year! A plan with clear actionable steps. A plan you can measure. Make it the best life you were created to live!
And envision that dream. Think about it. Pray about it. Read your goals often. Focus on the good you want this next year to be! Trust God to do great things this year. That is what faith does!