Thoughts on the New Year (and the old): Seven ways to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018

Some are saying goodbye to 2017. Others are saying good riddance. In our little corner of Creation, 2017 has been a tough year. Early on, our daughter fought for her very life, battling an infection that refused to yield to treatment after treatment. She spent a month in the hospital. Dear, sweet friends lost their 20-year-old daughter in a car accident. My cousin lost his son to a senseless murder. And now, as we near the end of the year, our best friends' son-in-law is in the hospital in the fight of his life, fighting for his life.

Around here, 2017 has been that kind of year. Devastating losses and near misses.

The bigger picture has been challenging, as well. Just when we thought America could not be more polarized, more divided after eight years of Obama, we elected the antidote and took our division to new heights (or depths). One side's ideal is the other side's worst nightmare. One side's good is the other's evil.

Still, here we stand, bloodied, bruised, battered, broken, the end of one tough year, ready to get on with the next.

Christmas is past. The presents are opened and the wrapping paper discarded. But, look! There, under your tree remains one more present ready to be unwrapped and enjoyed. It is a brand, spanking new year, unsullied, unspoiled, unexplored.

Thank God!

Thank you, God! In Your wisdom, You have given us this mechanism for putting things into perspective, for regathering our wits, regaining our confidence, renewing our hope. However dark our night, we welcome the morning light. However difficult the year, we begin a new one with fresh hope.

Where do we go from here? In this fleeting moment, where the present slips into the past the future becomes the present, may I suggest seven things to do with the old (2017) and the new (2018)?

  1. Release. Release the pain, the disappointment, the self-battering, the anger you feel towards others or God.
  2. Remember. Remember the good things 2017 brought to your life. Remember the little (and big) ways God showed Himself faithful in the heat of your battles, in the midst of your pain.
  3. Reduce. Get rid of the excess baggage that drags you down: the baggage of fear of the future or regret for the past.
  4. Renew. Renew those promises you made yourself, your spouse, your kids, your God. Some you kept. Others you didn't.
  5. Resolve. Sometimes the best thing you can be is malleable. Do what you should. Do what you can. Go ahead, resolve. But among your resolutions - at the top of the list - resolve "no longer to linger, charmed by the world's delights." Resolve to "hasten to Him...hasten so glad and free."
  6. Reinvent. A friend of mine became a runner some time ago. She posted on Facebook that she will end 2017 40 miles short of 800. What an accomplishment! Unhappy with the current version of yourself? Reinvent you. Find a healthy passion and pursue it.
  7. Rejoice. Paul said, "In everything give thanks." He did not say, "FOR everything give thanks." It is unreasonable to ask us to be thankful for some of the things that come our way. Somewhere down the road, with time for healing and a vista for reviewing, we may. But for now, let's just be thankful IN these things, IN these times. Let's be thankful that God, in His wisdom and grace, has given us these regular reboots. He has given us these annual opportunities to catch our breath, reconcile our past, and unwrap the gift of hope.

 I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. ~2 Timothy 1:12

Happy New Year!