New Year, Old You
It’s the New Year! The season of throwing out the old and making room for the new. The season of new hope and new dreams. Setting our sights on new goals. Leaving the old behind. Saying goodbye to the drama, tensions and problems of the past year. The season of looking forward and not looking back. Good riddance! Leave the old behind and move onto the new.
What if we are supposed to take some things from this past year with us into the new year? What if God allowed us to walk through some things in order for us to gain some knowledge or acquire some tools to use in the future? When preparing the Hebrew slaves in Egypt for their exodus, the Lord had Moses “Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (Exodus 11:2) As bad as their season was in Egypt, there would walk away with something valuable. They were to take this precious loot into their next season. We could learn a lesson here. No matter how tough a season we are exiting, we can always take valuable things into the next chapter of our lives. No matter your vocation, age or life stage, you probably learned some significant lessons this past year. Here are some things you can do to ensure you leave the past with all God wants you to use in the future.
What if God allowed us to walk through some things in order for us to gain some knowledge or acquire some tools to use in the future?
Plunder Your Past
Self assessment is a powerful form of growth. Start with the toughest moments of this past year. What would you change? What conversation do you wish you’d had? Ask yourself these three crucial evaluating questions:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What should I do differently next time?
Maybe you need to take responsibility for your part in your painful experiences. For this you're gonna be have to be brutally honest with yourself.
Maybe you need to take responsibility for your part in your painful experiences. For this you’re gonna be have to be brutally honest with yourself. You may, like David, need to ask God to “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Maybe you need to decide what new boundaries you need to place in your life? It’s possible you will come up with new strategies on how to handle conflict or fear in your life. Perhaps there are some things that went well that you want to be sure to repeat in the future. Don’t leave 2023 without stealing the goods God wants you to use in 2024.
Ask Those Closest To You for Golden Advice
Oftentimes we struggle with self assessment. Sometimes we overestimate how well we handled a situation by looking at ourselves through proverbial rose colored glasses. Perhaps, in our insecurity, we are too tough on ourselves and don’t give ourselves enough credit for how well we walked through a trying season. The scriptures would encourage us to “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20) Follow these simple but not so easy steps:
Identify the wise who walked with you
Who are the people you view as biblically wise that were around you during your tough seasons this past year. Who are the people you trust that saw you in the highs and the lows. Not too many and not too few. Three to four should suffice.
Give them permission
You probably need to give a few, trusted, truth speaking people in our lives permission to give us advice about what we need to learn from the previous year. That’s right, you may need to give actual permission to these advisors. Often the people who we need to hear from do not feel they have the right to speak into our lives. We need to literally give them the green light to share what they know with us.
Be a safe place
Many times those around us who love us and could give us amazing counsel refrain, because they know we will react poorly. Assure them you are a safe place, then be a safe place. Do the listening, not the speaking. Take notes. Lower your walls. Let go of the pride and remember “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33) Thank them for their love in honesty and the time their took to share it.
Often the people who we need to hear from do not feel they have the right to speak into our lives. We need to literally give them the green light to share what they know with us.
Take the Golden Nuggets Into the Future
Go back to your notes and reflect. Pray and ask the Spirit to reveal to you what is the gold you should be taking into your next season. Put boundaries in place to ensure you will use this gold when the time calls for it. Ask your trusted advisors to hold you accountable to making these changes, then be accountable to them.
Don’t leave these valuable new lessons in the past. Take them with you into the future and use them. That way you can appreciate the past trials for what they really were…opportunities to find precious treasure to take into your future.