The stockings hang limply over the mantle and the garland and lights are really just clutter at this point. The tree, which used to be the center of festivities, has become a serious fire hazard for every hour that ticks past Christmas.
December has wrapped up and January is here.
And I am left with a restless feeling for the year ahead.
An insatiable urge for change.
I want to purge; cast out the unnecessary, go on vacation, paint the living room a new color and cut off all of my hair. (Because of that last one, I make sure to keep my hair appointments in February.)
There always seems to be a hint of a letdown when December runs headlong into January.
Because let’s be honest, December is a hard act to follow.
It’s excess and merrymaking. A call to love more and get more. It’s an excuse to “have just one more bite” and spend just a bit more than you have, all in the name of giving.
And then there’s January.
Cold, dark, all clean eating and conservation. It’s time to reign in the spending and eating, take down the lights and sweep up the glitter.
I don’t know for sure but maybe it’s our incessant need to be busy that makes January so inherently unlikable. It’s the greatest letdown month across the board. One turn of the calendar page and we’re left with quite a bit of free time and a whole lot of reflection.
And possibly regret.
I used to really hate January.
I can still find myself going to that knee-jerk place of saying “I hate January.” When in reality, it’s not a month on the calendar I hate, it’s the feelings associated with it that can still make me uncomfortable.
Years ago when anxiety and depression ruled me, December was about distraction and busy and January left me unsettled and unsure.
I would get to the end of one year, gaze out over the next and would see only more of the same.
January was simply a reminder that I was incapable of getting out of my current state.
I allowed myself to believe the following year would be just as hard as the previous. I used to attribute the darkness I felt in January to its cold, dark atmosphere when really it was the despair inside of me that was the problem.
Even though I wanted desperately to believe next year could be different I didn’t really allow myself to believe that it could be.
I no longer feel so much angst when January rolls around.
There’s one simple reason for this.
My thinking, and more importantly, my belief has changed.
January is still cold and dark. But as for me? No, not so much anymore.
Sure, I have my days, but just as He likes to do, God changed my inside and left my circumstances where they were.
I have learned over time to no longer allow my faulty thinking and memories to predict what tomorrow holds.
Rather than looking back and then looking immediately forward, I remember to pause in between and do what is most important;
If it were up to me I’d stay stuck and wallow in defeat. I know myself well. I can’t be trusted.
But there is someone bigger than my memories and old patterns.
I am human. He is not.
A calendar page doesn’t affect His plans for me…
He has told me that, “He knows the plans he has for me, plans to prosper and not harm, plans to give hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I never allowed hope to be a part of my January’s. Instead, I allowed my thoughts and memories of the previous year to dictate the new one.
I now choose to look up in place of rubbernecking to last year. When I do choose to believe what He says it settles me and hope becomes the outlook that surrounds my January rather than despair.
I believe a new year is God’s gift and a chance for reflection, rest, renewal and ultimately… hope.
Our precious Lord knew we needed the constraints of time.
As humans, we have the uncanny habit of either staying stuck or thinking we’ll live forever. Depending on our season or propensity for thinking we can go either way.
There is a tendency to forget we have an expiration date attached to our very being. Whether we fall for the lie that we’ll live forever or forget that we don’t have to stay stuck, we become our own little god.
Either way, we forget to look up before we look forward.
The existence of a new year is a reminder to focus in on what is truly needed and to forsake the frivolous excess of what is not.
Sometimes that excess is simply holding on too tightly to what lies behind you.
Friend, I really pray this new year finds you in a place of hope for the year to come.
Hope in the possibility of what God is capable of.
And hope in what He is able to do with what is behind you.
This January looks a little differently than January’s in years past.
When I pulled down the decorations and turned that calendar page, I was reminded of the beauty of a fresh start. Sure, I’m another year older but more importantly, I’m another year closer to Him, the One who gives me every. single. year.
There’s a restlessness brewing inside, this is true, but this is good and healthy because God is spurring me on to better things. New things. Hopeful things.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Happy new year, friend! And as always, thank you for stopping by,