January 1st and usually the month of January for many represents a fresh start, a new chapter, something different to the year that has been. The tone is often hopeful, determined and excitable.
People turning to New Year resolutions, goal settings, planning for the year ahead, and for many wishing this might be the year that we are not pulled under the weight of the pandemic.
Perhaps this year we will beat it. Surely there can be no more lockdowns, surely there will be no more restrictions. Are we not just wishing for the bare minimum that we want from this year? A year where we go back to what we once knew to be the norm.
For some it may seem challenging to see how things might be much different. Perhaps some who are still stuck facing many restrictions and unable to see loved ones. As they come to plan the year ahead perhaps there is fear of planning so as not to be disappointed again when things have to change.
Some are weary, mentally, physically and emotionally. And so the biggest challenge coming into the new year is not necessarily creating the ideal ‘new me’ but instead it is dealing with understanding how our thoughts contribute to the habits and reality that we create as we begin to start the year fresh.
As I inched closer and closer to the start of this year, I found myself reflecting on the beginning of time where the world was dust and God spoke it into being. Where everything that God created he called good. Of all the adjectives that he could have used, he called it good.
It made me reflect on what a ‘good’ year might be for me. Is achieving all the goals? Is it more time with loved ones? Or is it being attentive to the work that God continues to do and seeing it as good? Or is good only determined by the end product of the goals that I have set?
You see the issue with placing worth on the goals or resolutions set is that when things don’t go the way you planned (say because of the effects of the pandemic), then we lose motivation and at times the ability to see that there is still good surrounding us.
Perhaps instead we need to focus on being attentive to finding the good in all things even the mundane. It’s remembering that a perfect God who made creation and called it good is still creating, orchestrating and blessing us daily we just need to be open to seeing it.
If x, then y
I once read that society has created and encouraged the idea that if one does x then y will happen- and that the action of x is standard for all. Yet so often this formula does not work for everyone as we are all designed so uniquely.
However, we all still fall into the trap of thinking this way at the start of the year; if I run everyday I will be skinny, if I go to bed early I will be more productive, if I read my bible at 9am every morning then I will be closer to God etc. And don’t get me wrong all these things might give you the outcome that you seek.
However, these actions or specific formula wouldn’t work for everyone as it does not cater for their personal lives, internal and external factors etc. Yet we often find ourselves setting goals and expectations for the year based on the formula that if I do x, then y will happen and it will be good.
And when we don’t get the desired results because the formula has been affected by the reality of our personal circumstances, we feel as though the year has not been good or that we have failed in what we have set out to do.
As we set out the year motivated to see change, through using this formula we more or less create a pattern of anxiety and stress which blur our vision from seeing the good that God is constantly and consistently blessing us with.
Fixing our thoughts
This year, perhaps it’s about setting habits and fixing our thoughts on what is good and the things that we can be grateful for in order to create and protect the reality that in all things God is working on our behalf, for our good.
Instead of resolutions, perhaps we need to keep on top of our thoughts and being attentive to how our thoughts affect our actions, habits and outcomes. Perhaps in order to have a ‘good’ year, we need to focus on finding the goodness in all things.
The funny thing of all this is that to see good we merely just need to look outside and see that the perfect King has indeed given us the beautiful creation that surrounds us to remind us of the good that he creates and continues to create.
Araina Kazia Pereira from Wellington, New Zealand is a published writer having written for various outlets and most recently joining as a Press Service International young writer. She enjoys asking the big questions and writing about the challenging questions that she has wrestled with in her own journey, as well as her learnings along the way. You can contact her at email@example.com.