The New Year approaches, and as I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed I see all the typical posts about bidding a much-anticipated ado to this year. They are not so much hope-filled posts as they are desperate declarations that surely the next year will be an improvement on the current one. Surely all the garbage will cease, the pouring rain of bad luck will let off, and something good will finally happen in the coming year. See ya later, 2018, and bring me some good news New Year! Well, I have to be honest, my friends, for many of us I don’t think a thing will change. I suppose it’s better you know now than a false idea of a stellar year ahead. Too much?
I wish I had a dollar for every post, meme, or update I’ve seen that declares 2019 will be different, and the one that I’ve seen the most totes the grand decision to cut negative people out of your life in the coming year. For surely if you can shake the dust of the Debbie Downers from your feet then things will start to look up. Surely. I remember thinking that was what I really needed to do to finally feel better. Out with the drama, and in with the positivity! Bam.
I mean, we’ve all had those people. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re the people who manage to make you feel like crap, no matter what, and I certainly had a few people like that on my list. Even family, the people who should be your biggest supporters, and sadly the people that you feel guilty for cutting out of your life. I can recall a point where I finally felt peace for letting those folks go.
It’s like the Lord told me, “you can forgive someone and not be their friend.”
Through His wisdom, I realized that some people did consistently bring me down, and I could forgive them for that. But I didn’t have to hang out with them to prove my forgiveness. It was okay to distance myself from darkness, to walk in an environment that edified me.
But guess what? Things didn’t really improve that much. I still was bothered by it all. I allowed broken relationships to break me, and negative circumstances to shake me. And shake me hard. I was a victim of my environment, if you will. So if everything looked up, so did I, but if the wind threatened to blow over my little boat, I was afraid.
For most of us, 2019 will be the same as 2018, not because we don’t desire it to be better, but because we are trying to change the wrong things. We’re quick to change our friends, change our jobs, and change our eating habits, but we’re slow to change ourselves and our mindsets. We’re eager to cut out negative people, but not quite so enthusiastic about cutting out the negative parts of ourselves. We strive to change our circumstances, determined to spend less money or exercise more. And these things aren’t without merit! They’re typically good ideas, but unless we also change how we react to our current situation, nothing will ever get better.
I had to get to a place in my life where I didn’t just cut out the negative people, but I also personally stopped being so affected by other’s opinion of me. I couldn’t just start managing my money better, but I also had to be content in my circumstances. I had to trust God to provide, surrender financial fear to Him, and not desire a life beyond my means. I couldn’t be a woman of circumstances, a woman affected by the storms of life, a woman whose feelings were based on the situation at hand. I had to expand my vision, seeing with a kingdom mindset, so that when the wind threatened to blow down my castle, I just laughed!
I had to become a woman who let go of control, and who surrendered perfection. I had to realize my happiness wasn’t based on my children’s love for me, my husband’s compliments, or even my waist size. It wasn’t contingent on my friendships with other women, my bank account balance, or the security I felt in insurance premiums paid. It wasn’t even dependent on my good health, for I could get hit by a bus any given day. In the end, it came down to fear and control. I could no longer fear the things I couldn’t control. Which happened to be just about everything.
So why does one year end and another begin, yet nothing changes? Life is still hard, bad things happen, and trouble comes our way. Family gets sick, loved ones die, and something around the house breaks down. Jobs are lost, savings accounts dwindle, and muscles start to ache regularly. Relationships end, the promotion goes to someone else, and the book you wrote still isn’t published. We can change none of these things, so where does the hope lie?
I read something this morning that jumped out to me. It said,
“God has to take me through the process of getting unstuck from what’s been holding me captive before I can take a stand.” – Lysa Terkeurst
All this to say, your future will never change until you change yourself. And that doesn’t mean changing your circumstances or your environment, or even your habits. Yes, changing those things are good, but in truth, you must change how you see those things. The fact is, your situation doesn’t make your life what it is. Your life is what it is because of who you are, and you are a child of God! Having that heritage is the lifesaver you require, because even if the wind blows and does tip over your boat, it doesn’t matter. Your God will save you. This life on earth and all the circumstances therein are but window dressing. They’re simply a foretaste of the divine, a precursor to eternity. Therefore when circumstances rock your boat, you can keep your thoughts steady on the eternal mindset of the life that awaits you beyond this one.
How do you change 2019? By changing your view of it. The future is nothing to fear, nothing you strive to control and change, but rather something you surrender. Surrender old thoughts that say earthly things matter more than they do. If it’s not going to Heaven with you, then I wouldn’t waste too many tears on it. Rather anticipate with great joy and hope a future without tears, without broken relationships, busted pipes, and aging bodies. Look fondly forward with love to a future that you will not need to improve, but that already is everything you desire. Keep your eyes on that promised future, take along everyone you can, and enjoy enthusiastically the time you have before that day comes. Enjoy each moment, despite the wind that blows and troubles that come. Let those storms strengthen and mold you into something better.
In other words, enjoy 2018, and 2019 will simply follow suit.