Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Locking the Door on Last Year

 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
~ Philippians 3:12-14, MSG ~

Have you heard this comment coming from your mouth or from friends around you?  "I am so glad this year is over!"  For those who have had an exceptionally rough 12 months, the chant starts in late November or early December, "I can't wait for this year to be over with!"  Something in our psyche sees that annual flip of the calendar as a release from all that has happened in the preceding months.  And what a welcome release it is!

I have to admit that it's this sort of New Year at our house.  This past year has not necessarily been kind to us.  After much wrestling with challenges and bullying of our youngest, we finally got the school to move her back to an IEP from the 504 Plan that poorly served her transitioning into intermediate school.  Unfortunately, it did little to help her finish out a stressful and frustrating school year.  Repeated monthly bouts of tonsilitis last winter brought us through a contentious scheduling and rescheduling of a tonsil and adenoidectomy for her in May.  Despite the fact that we were told by our hematologist that they had no record of her being a carrier of hemophilia, she had excess bleeding and ended up being readmitted to the hospital.  Once we finally got her on the upswing, her brother was hospitalized with a GI bleed.  By this time, the medical bills were pouring in.  In the middle of our summer vacation, we had to sell our camper, a much-loved getaway, just to make ends meet.

The new school year was no kinder to us.  Our son missed the first 2 weeks of school with medical issues and ended up hospitalized again.  We went through the chaos of firing 2 specialists after that debacle.  Yet, the insanity didn't end with our son's medical issues.  My husband lost his job with the parent company of our son's hematology clinic in mid-October.  We found ourselves more than spun around and spit out!

It's times like these that I am so grateful for Saint Paul's inspiring words, "...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (vv 13-14, NIV)
I truly appreciate his reminder that, because of Jesus, my past does not have to equal my future
No stranger to God's ways, I know that His mercies are NEW every day.  

The more I fixate on what a troublesome year I am just coming out of, the more I am weighed down and debilitated in the year ahead.  The Creator, who fashioned me with a free-will, offers me the choice of where to turn my focus.  I can ruminate about the half-empty part of the glass, feeling sad, defeated, hopeless, or I can stare into what I have been blessed with in the half-full part of the glass, coming to realize that my cup actually overflows!  I make the choice to center my attention on the hope, the clean slate, the bright potential  of a brand new year.

If all I ever did was focus on the calamity and sorrow of days past, I would permanently lose my joy.  Honestly, we have had so many bad years -- the years of hospitalizations, loss of a parent, joblessness, school difficulties, financial burdens -- I would never move forward if I only remained in the past.  While there's no guarantee that the days ahead will get better, there is neither any guarantee they will get much worse.  I have been down on the bottom, and I am still here standing.  God never leaves me there.

So how about you?  Are you ready to triple lock the door on last year?  Are you ready to kick your past hurts out for good, and reach forward with me towards the excellence that Jesus intends for us?  I pray you are!  Happy New Year!

PRAY:  Thank You, Lord that Your mercies are new every day!  Thank You for the fresh start of a New Year!  Holy Spirit, it is only by Your strength, wisdom and power that I can press on, leaving past sorrow behind me.  Send me gentle reminders to fix my focus on the hope that only You can give when I am discouraged.

~ Barb Dittrich
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