There are hundreds of ways to say goodbye to the past year. Some people will make Instagram posts commemorating it. Some will sit and reminisce about it. Some will throw all the memories and thoughts into a bonfire. Then, they will turn around and greet the new year with anticipation and resolutions. The importance of remembering the past to know how to move forward and embrace the future is a theme we see throughout Scripture.
“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9).
The word “remember” is such a significant topic that God even tells the Israelites to set up a monument, an Ebenezer stone, to remind them of His actions where He turned events from chaos and evil to victories and blessings. Remembering where you saw God show up in your past and move on your behalf is an opportunity be reminded of how you can trust Him with your future.
For me, 2018 was good. It was full of wonderful bittersweet and exciting moments. There were some hard things to say goodbye to but some amazing and exciting things to embrace. Instead of thinking about what mistakes we made, missed opportunities, or what didn’t go right with our year, maybe we should remember how we grew and the things that went well. Remember the good! Resolutions are not just about fixing the bad, but they can also be about celebrating the good.
Each year, I remember the past year, and look toward the new one, praying for a word for the new year. This year the Lord gave me two: CHANGE and HOPE. In 2019, the Lord is already teaching me about the lenses through which I view change. Instead of change being a part of my circumstance, I am now in a season where I can create and interact with change. All change requires some form of grieving. But, with change comes hope—a hope for new beginnings, hope for more, hope for better. Remembering what the Lord has done in the past allows us to grab onto hope with the future. 2019, for me, will be about looking through the lens of remembering the past but also holding on to the hope of change and what the Lord has for me next.
So, if you are sitting in the middle of January still trying to decide on what your new year’s resolutions, bucket list, or goals will be, here are a few suggestions to think about as you pray.
1. Consider the circles.
Life is generally split into areas of the “als” of wellness. I tend to break them down into five circles or areas for my life: Physical, Mental, Financial, Relational, and Spiritual. But, you can do whatever you like: physical, mental, behavioral, etc. Make goals or bucket lists under each, usually one per area. Because, let’s be honest, more than five is just not going to happen.
Plan and use attainable steps or ways to reach your goals. One thing I’ve noticed over the years in talking with my students and friends about goals is that the biggest reason for failure or unaccomplished goals is the lack of small attainable steps. So, make a plan that you can carry out.
3. Get accountability.
Let’s be honest…this should be in every area of our life, but find someone to hold you accountable with your goals and your plan. Maybe it should be someone who has a similar plan or goal, or not, just find someone who will be good at being accountable.
Celebrate when you accomplish a resolution or goal or achieve a step in your plan! This is one of the focuses in our ministry, celebrating the wins!
Remember and embrace the hope of the future. So, cheers to your 2019 and what the Lord has for you next!
Sarah Farley is a campus minister at the University of Georgia. She loves talking about Jesus, SEC football, eating burgers, and drinking coffee with students.