End of the Year Reflections

newyearIt’s that time when the annual news retrospectives are everywhere. Why people want to live through all the tragedies and horrors of the past year once more is beyond me. We are saturated with news headlines hourly, and I’ve never quite understood the point of going back and hearing and seeing all the natural disasters, bloodshed and general mayhem one more time.

Nevertheless, each year can bring fresh insight in life, and sometimes it’s helpful to look back and ask whether we are better off spiritually/emotionally/mentally/physically than we were the year before. Any lessons learned? Anything come into sharper focus in the past 12 months? It’s worth mulling over.

Not all lessons are especially enjoyable, nor do they lead to insights that are necessarily positive in nature. But if we have a better handle on life and relationships and the challenges they can present, we aren’t really worse off than we were 12 months before.

I want to write for a moment on acceptance of bad things in life. Whether it be the loss of a loved one or some other kind of loss in life, we as humans have a hard time letting go. Really letting go. As Christians we are taught that all things are possible with God, that God can do anything, that God can heal anything or restore what’s broken or lost. There are verses galore in the Bible that say it.

The fact is, what do you do when He doesn’t choose to do it? What do you do when blind eyes you pray will see continue in blindness? What do you do when Jesus doesn’t fix things, restore what has been taken or make things better? How do we reach a point of acceptance? Years ago, I read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying, where she laid out her theory about the stages of human grief. The last one was acceptance. But the journey to acceptance is not a neat one for everybody. People don’t just travel a straight line to acceptance after ticking off the various stages on their personal chart. Sometimes it is a circuitous route where stages are visited and revisited before shifting to the next phase.

Maybe we don’t talk enough with our children about accepting things that cannot be changed or people who will not change. We want to teach hope to our children and the importance of prayer, but we probably don’t do them favors by making God seem like a cosmic fix-it genie who will give us what we long for (because it is right and good) if we beg hard enough, long enough. Because He doesn’t, many times, for reasons known only to Him.

If we continue to wait and agonize for some desired change, we can stall out spiritually and emotionally. You can’t wait to live life. You can’t let some thing or someone that will not change take your ability to move forward in a positive way. The truth is, that change may never happen. What then? That’s why letting go is so important, yet, of course, hard to to.

I think that is the lesson I am focusing on for 2014. It is to discard old worn-out hopes and to look ahead towards light and living what God has more fully in the present. We are fools when we stake our happiness and intense prayers and hopes on something that, quite frankly, God may never grant (even though what is desired is right and godly.) It’s up to Him. He is in charge, we are not.

Keeping this focus is really a daily (hourly?) decision, because old thought patterns die hard. Old hopes die hard. I think, however, there is great freedom in shedding the baggage. We can travel much more quickly and easily without it.

Here’s a New Year’s poem written by Victorian hymn-writer, Frances Ridley Havergal.

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee;
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above;
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee

~ Frances Ridley Havergal

3 thoughts on “End of the Year Reflections

  1. Lori Glass says:

    Wow Ingrid this is something I have struggled with this year acceptance of how things are and letting go of what I can’t change. There are so many things we have to let go of through out our lives. Almost daily I have been playing hymns on the piano this fall and that has helped me so much. The words and music are uplifting.

  2. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    I saw this on the Breaking Free page on FB, without attribution, but I agree wholeheartedly with the thoughts:

    “Many studies indicate that goals are more likely achieved when we are very specific in spelling out what it is we’d like to change or improve upon.

    As we approach a new year, let’s get serious about where we’re going. Let’s Arrive in 2015, a MUCH stronger version of ourselves.

    How many of us struggle with feeling that fear rules our lives?

    We’re afraid to trust, afraid to get hurt again, afraid to fail, afraid to suffer more loss, financially and emotionally. Afraid to be bullied…to have people betray us, our families turn against us. Fear that the narcissist still stalks us (does stalk us) or will show up all over again.

    Let’s break free from these fears and live a life of freedom in 2014!”

  3. Sherry Goodwin says:

    Hi Ingrid. Just cleaned out some old posts and planning to get started once again with the Jewels for His Crown blogsite. Loved seeing FRH’s poem on YOURS and hope you liked MINE. Many thanks to your dear son and his family. I’ll be in touch soon! Love, Sherry Hugs to Emmy, please!

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