Well. Here we are again. January 1st of another year.
2016 in someways whizzed by, yet in others dragged so slowly it’s almost like we weren’t moving at all. 2016 was a year of darkness but also a year of light. It was a year of sorrow but a year of joy. It was a year of change but a year of staying the same.
Last year, I decided not to do resolutions. Inspired by the wonderful Julia Albain (writer, creator, actor and all round superstar) I had words for the year. Words to live by, to aspire too. Words to comfort, words to keep me on the straight and narrow. This year I’m doing the same. My words for 2016 were ‘free’ and ‘able’. I wrote a blog this time last year explaining briefly how these words were going to keep me going but let me give you the bullet point version.
Being free. Daniel J. Boorstin has said that “Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.” and that’s something I tried to live by last year. I became a successful care leaver and graduated university with a 2:1. I forgave my Dad and felt that weight lift off of my shoulders leaving me free of that prison. I wrote my play for my dissertation and told stories, freely telling the world that I am a Christian and I’m not ashamed. I cut toxic relationships out of my life and though I miss those people dearly, I am free.
It was difficult, and it hurt. I didn’t just wake up one day and go ‘hey, I’m free today’. It was a long journey, a slog, an uphill battle. A battle that I will continue to take into 2017, but my focus was on it in 2016.
I live, and have always lived, to please other people. I put other people’s needs and wants and desires before my own. I take on everyone’s problems and squash my own until I explode and don’t stop. Because of the way I lived, I didn’t take chances and I didn’t take risks and I didn’t do adventure. However, in 2016 I had to tell myself that I was ‘able’ to take chances, to take risks, to have an adventure. And I really tried. Only last week, just before the end of the year, I bought a ticket to go see a comedy gig. So in September 2017, I’ll be heading to London all alone…I’ve never done that before. I led the Christmas Day service/gathering/get together at church because I am able. I was able to pick songs, and have questions and lead this special time together. On the St Mikes mission week, I was able to lead worship during most of our morning devotions, I was able to plan and deliver RE lessons, I was able to be an Ambassador for Jesus.
Just like being free, being able was incredibly difficult. I am a pessimist; my glass always half full but last year I had to try and change that. I had to say yes, I had to take risks, I had to push myself. Eleanor Roosevelt said “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” and I truly believe what she says. Last year I accepted the fact that I grew up in care, and I didn’t let it stop me. I decided that I would prove the world wrong. Last year I accepted the fact I have mental health problems, but that I wouldn’t let them get in my way. Last year I accepted the fact that I’m not perfect, and I never will be but that God will still use me. I am able.
So now we come onto my words for 2017. I’ve have to think long and hard about what I want from this year. Looking back on how hard 2016 was, how can I make 2017 better? Well. My words for this year are ‘expectant’ and ‘willing’.
They may sound like the same thing, or a similar thing but in my head they are not.
This year, I am willing. Or I’m going to actually try to be willing. I will put my hand up when someone needs something done, I will offer my services. I will be willing to listen to what God wants me to do. I want to be willing to change, willing to try new things, willing to more positive and willing to let Jesus sit in the driving seat.
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
I want to willingly follow the above quote. Not as a chore, or because ‘I’m a Christian’ but because I want too and I want to improve someone’s day, week, month or year. I am willing to do whatever it takes.
Now. This one is a little harder to explain. If I live each day expecting it to be bad, it will be bad. If I live each day expecting to fail, I probably will. I want to live 2017 expecting the best. Expecting God to use me for His glory. Expecting to thrive at work and at church. Expecting the good, and the bad. Expecting that I will get a brain wave that could change my life forever. I am expectant.
Joyce Meyer said something that really applies to me; “Sometimes when you’ve had a long series of disappointing things happen, you can get into the very bad habit of just expecting more of what you’ve already had.” I don’t want to live 2017 expecting the worst to happen, that every day I’ll wake up unable to move because my depression won’t let me. That my anxiety will stop me from speaking up. That I’ll looked down upon because of the way I look. I want to live 2017 expectant of the good stuff.
2016 is over, and 2017 has begun. Let’s wait and see where this year takes us and where I grow and where I fall.