2017. Another year has come and gone and I find myself sitting on the floor of my apartment asking myself, "What was 2016 all about?" In the glow of my Christmas tree that I have yet to put away, I ask: What did I learn? How did I grow? What could I have done better? What did I do well? I pull out my fancy spiral bound notebook that has the words "Dream Big" written on the cover. Its the place that I write down prayers, dreams, hurts, and hopes. I begin to search the pages of the notebook that has a very detailed chronology of 2016. I smile big as I relive the moments of God's faithfulness. I let the caverns of my heart ache a little as I remember the seasons of grief. I turn to a fresh page and I begin to make a timeline of the previous year. I write down the highlights (good and bad) of each month. And I begin to pray.
Jesus, thank you for how You met with me in 2016.
Thank you for Your grace that went before me in every joy and every trial.
Thank you for Your goodness and Your mercy.
Thank you for Your provision.
Lord, I don't know what 2017 holds, but I'm excited and filled with
Holy Anticipation as I take this journey with You.
Draw me even closer to You in 2017.
I'm a reflector. I love to look back at the end of a year and think of all the things that have happened. I love to see God's presence weaved throughout my story.
I'm a dreamer. I love to dream and plan and set goals of how life will look at the beginning of a new year.
As I've been reflecting and as I've been dreaming, God has been speaking. He's been showing me some things that are helping me to frame 2017 in a different way. As I sip my coffee with my Sugar Cookie creamer (best part of the Christmas season), I am hearing God whisper a few things to my heart:
Give Yourself Grace
I'm a person that has had to learn the true concept of Grace. It didn't come inherently to me. I'm a striver. I'm a doer. I'm a perfectionist. I know God loves me and I know His grace is for me too, but it hasn't been something that my heart has grasped until the last year or so.
If you're like me, the beginning of a new year can create a lot of shame. As I relive the moments of the past year and look towards the new year, most of the thoughts running through my head sound like this: You didn't do enough. Look at all the resolutions you didn't keep. Look at all the ways you failed. This year had so much potential, but you squandered it. Why will this year be any different? You'll never achieve these goals. Why even set them?
As I begin 2017, I hear God's Spirit whispering to my Spirit, "Give yourself grace." What a glorious thought. Grace. I can give myself grace. I don't have to beat myself up and shame my way into the new year. I can live by grace. In my life, this looks like celebrating all the things I accomplished in 2016. I might not've hit all the marks I was hoping to, but when I give myself grace, I focus on all the things that went right instead of all the things that went wrong. I focus my thoughts on all the things I did do, instead of on all the things I didn't do. John 1:16 says, "For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace." This means that grace is already ours to claim. He has given it to us already - and not only grace - but grace upon grace.
Speak Life Instead of Death
As I've spent time with the Lord in the last couple of days, one thing keeps coming up in the things I'm hearing and reading. It's the concept of speaking life instead of death. This is a multi-faceted concept. We should totally speak life over death in our relationships with other people; but I what I want to focus on is speaking life over death in our own lives.
Speaking life instead of death comes from the idea of sowing and reaping. You've heard of it, right? We hear people throw the phrase "you reap what you sow" around all too often. And it's true. Biblical, even. You reap what you sow. Not only do we reap what we sow in our actions, but we reap what we sow in our words.
All too often at the beginning of a new year, we speak words of death. We've been around the block one too many times. We've grown cold and callous. We're cynics. We've lost our childlike faith and innocence. We've grown skeptical that anything good can come in our lives. And if we're honest, we've even grown skeptical that God would bless us this year. The words we speak reek of death: I'm not one of the lucky ones. This year will be the same as the last and the one before that. I won't get the job I've dreamed of. I'll be single this time next year. I won't get the house I've prayed for. My marriage won't be any different. I won't get pregnant. And the list goes on and on.
What would happen if we began to speak words of life instead of death over 2017? If we lived as if the best truly was yet to come? I'm not suggesting some "name it and claim it" mentality. But the Bible says, "The tongue has the power of life and death..." (Proverbs 18:21). If all we're speaking over 2017 is negativity, our year will likely be filled with figurative death. If we choose, though, to speak positivity and hope over 2017, our year will likely be crowned with life and abundance.
What would happen if you chose to say
2017 has so much potential and hope. My prayer is that if you can't believe that yet, God's Spirit will tend to your heart until you can. I love you and I'm praying for you! Happy New Year!
Hi! My name is Stephanie, and I'm the girl behind this blog! I'm a pastor and a writer and a lover of all things chocolate. As you browse the content on this page, I hope you find yourself encouraged and smiling. At some moments, perhaps you would even shed a tear or two. Most importantly, I pray you find hope in whatever season you're walking through. We are in this journey together, and my calling is to encourage you along the way!