We have come to the end of 2023 and it seems it is natural to want to reflect on the past as well as look forward to the future. Some see this as futile or trivial, but I like to embrace the possibilities that lie ahead with a new start. Each day is actually like that, we have the opportunity to make the best choices each day, no matter what has unfolded in the past. As a Counselor, I definitely know the power and necessity in looking at our past, however, we must be careful not to dwell on the past so much that it hinders the future.
History is important as we think back over the many years and occurrences that transpired before we were born. We can learn so much from the choices and consequences that others have made, if we take the time to do so. Even in parenting, I would read stories of others situations so that it would help me be a better parent. Although our situations may not be exactly the same, we can still enhance our knowledge by gathering as much information as we can to make a better decision. I believe one recognition of being mature is the ability to consider what has happened before and to others, therefore not forging ahead just on one’s own opinion. The phrase “learning the hard way” comes from this very process, something teenagers are likely to do, rather than taking the time or effort to consider the outcomes. We cannot, however, spend all of our time reviewing the past, or we will fail to move forward. Having dependence on God helps us have the hope we need to embrace the newness and eagerly anticipate a bright future.
Here are some questions to ask over the next couple of days:
- What were some blessings I experienced this past year? Are there blessings I failed to recognize at the time but now realize their importance?
- What struggles did I go through this past year? How did I make it through the struggles, was I strong or weak? Who did I go to for help? Did God show that He is trustworthy?
- What good decisions did I make? Did I start any good habits?
- Looking towards the new year, are there good habits I have that I want to continue? Are there bad habits I want to stop? Who can help me with my habits or am I only dependent on myself? What are some small steps I can take to move forward in a positive manner? Who can I get on my team to encourage me and/or walk with me?
- Are my spiritual disciplines strong enough? What can I do to improve or to increase their frequency?
So, as we reflect on the past year, keep a healthy perspective, recognizing failures but also appreciating the victories (even small ones). Look with anticipation on the future, being willing to make some changes and choices that will increase positive results and deepen your relationship with God.