New Year’s Eve

There’s a lot swimming around in my head this evening and I find myself having a difficult time finding the connecting thread through it all. Although there really is no *magic* to a new year (any of us can have a fresh start on any given day), December 31st is a nice marker every 365 days to stop, reflect, and plan.

Looking back on this year, there’s a lot I wish I would’ve done better. There’s also a lot of successes that I thoroughly enjoyed. In the early stages of codependency recovery, I am so thankful to look back on 2017 and know that I was in reality. I didn’t spend 12 months dreaming, chasing a fantasy, or working my manipulative magic. No. I was in the present.

The present isn’t great sometimes. I’d say that the reality of my job is that I don’t like it. It takes up a lot of my time and energy without many rewards. I have fear and anxiety to work through and health issues that affect my emotions… I mean, come on, that’s just messed up. Sometimes it really does feel like my body is against me… which I guess it is because I was born broken in a fallen world.

However, the beauty of reality is that God is there. The true God Who is in pursuit of a real relationship with me. I am completely safe to fail, succeed, and recover. 2015 and 2016 were years that I delved into love addiction and family coping mechanisms. 2017 started with facing and processing my debilitating fear of eternity. Of course, that fear isn’t totally gone, but I have more ways to work with it when the leg-numbing fear smacks me at its chosen time.

I’d say 2017 has been wonderful due to the clarity that comes with codependency recovery. It was also frightening because of the struggle I had with my faith. I’ve been interacting with God since I was five years old, but I didn’t realize I created false perceptions of Him while growing up. This year I’ve gone from the extreme of “Is God real?” to “God is so real that I’m completely terrified.”

Like my fear of eternity, moments of fear about God and my relationship with Him arise. However I can say, with complete certainty, that I’ve had a couple of experiences with God at the end of this year that were more tangible than I’ve ever known possible. My conviction of the reality of God is slowly welling up inside of me and I’m so excited as to what that could mean for my future.

And that’s what I would like to end this little blurb on 2017 with: patience. Recovery takes time and you are safe in God’s hands. In the moments that you feel you’re careening into old habits and extreme codependency, God has you. There’s nothing you can do to sabotage your value. God loves you and He will never abandon you. He is at work in you.

It’s okay to be in a long, weird transition. People aren’t comfortable seeing someone seemingly floating around. They want you to meet “the one” and settle down, find “that job” and start your corporate climb, or “do whatever makes you happy.” Honestly, you may never find the one, that job, or that thing that makes you happy… but thank God that’s not the point of life! The point is to live in communication with God. The point is to know you have all you need in Him.

This whole life is a weird transition, whether people realize it or not. We’re all on our way to eternity. Don’t rush yourself there. Appreciate where you are and allow yourself to be there.

Happy New Year!

 

Week of Reflection: How’d You Do Last Year?

When things go dark, our natural desire is to use the world as a coping mechanism. We sleep and watch tv to ignore depression, we eat away stress, and relish in negative thinking. I know these things sound obviously unhealthy, but in the moment, sleeping, binge watching, eating, and obsessive thinking seem to be quite enjoyable methods to pass time. We can be self-destructive like that.

Romans 12 warns the reader to not conform to the world but be transformed. The Christian life is begun by a rebirth. When you accept Jesus as your savior, the Holy Spirit indwells in you and gives you a new life. Once you have the Holy Spirit, you have the opportunity to ground yourself in God’s word everyday. It is through the Bible that you find knowledge of who you are and what your purpose is.

This is what Paul would call a “renewing” of your mind. You filter out the worldly tendencies and fill up with spiritual renewal. By seeking God everyday, you continue to deepen your understanding of what He finds to be “good and acceptable and perfect”. God brought you new life to fill you with light, joy, and hope. Through hard times and phases of peace, you walk through this life and learn what it is to have joy in every circumstance. You learn the depth of gratitude.

Reflection is part of the renewal process. It’s an important piece of growth as an individual. If you are not working through your successes and failures via the lens of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, you are not learning the lessons that God is teaching you. Therefore, you’ll be taught the same lessons over and over again. You won’t be able to move on to the next one. Some people will go their whole lives without moving past a particular struggle!

To reflect is to pause. Our culture has made it very difficult to do that. Even when you have a moment to yourself, there’s the temptation – addiction, I may even say – to take the phone out and keep your thoughts from bringing unpleasantries to the surface. When you are in constant distraction, you’re not going to be talking through life with God, asking Him questions, and waiting for Him to respond. Keeping life experiences to yourself like that will sink you further into isolation. We don’t want that to happen!

So, being a few weeks away from daylight savings coming to an end, spend some time in reflection this week on how you handled shorter days last year. You can use the exercise below as a guide through your reflection.

Week of Reflection Exercise:

  1. Schedule time this week to sit down and reflect over last year.
  2. During your reflection time:
    1. Ask God to show you how you did last year.
    2. Write down what comes to mind:
      1. How did you feel last year when it got dark early?
      2. Did you develop any habits during that time that were self-destructive?
      3. Are you still feeling the effects of those bad habits right now?
    3. Ask God to reveal to you healthier ways to cope this year.
    4. Ask God for forgiveness if you feel you placed something over Him as a comfort last year.
    5. Thank God for what He is going to do for you this season.
  3. If you were not affected by the shorter days last year, ask God to show you others that may need your help during the winter months.