As we get ready to wrap up another year, I’ve been thinking a lot about finishing well. I understand there’s no magical significance to the turn of a new year, but it does seem to been a natural transition point where certain things end and others begin.
We’ve been doing some reflection exercises on our staff at Vinelife and I was surprised to see what came out in my answers – a whole mess load of joy, pain, and growth that’s shaped who I am right now. It’s amazing how much happens in one year.
To be honest, I don’t like reflecting. I like moving. I like creating. I like forward momentum. Looking back can feel like a waste of time. I am much better at planning than I am celebrating and much more efficient at scheming than remembering.
As I’ve noticed these tendencies, I’ve also felt the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit reminding me to finish this year well. To not move forward without genuinely celebrating as much as I can remember from the year.
I’ve been realizing that when it comes to our faith journey and creative aspirations, it’s just as important to honor yesterday as it is to dream about tomorrow.
The idea of “remembering” is a huge theme throughout Scripture, especially in the Old Testament. The word appears in the King James Version 148 times. Nearly every time the people of God would be delivered from a dire situation, they would just as quickly forget about his goodness and mercy and carry on like nothing ever happened. Constantly, the Lord had to send prophets to remind the people of all He had done for them.
Sound familiar? Not much has changed since the days of old. Our ability to remember and celebrate is a leaky bucket that empties itself quicker than it is filled. This is why God consistently instructs His people towards steady and intentional rhythms of celebration to honor our past and renew our souls for tomorrow.
Isaiah 63:7 (ESV)
I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
If you have a desire to finish well, here are 6 ways to remember this last year. I’d encourage you not to just read these suggestions, but actually do these things. Set a time for 18 minutes, and spend 3 minutes on each of these points.
1. Learn From Your Failures.
We’ve all had missteps. We’ve all made dumb moves. Some of those things were painful and you may still be in the recovery process. That’s OK. One of my pastors continually reminds me “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” It’s just true. The good news is the mercy of God allows us to turn our failures into opportunities for growth and inject our bones with resilience. You’ve learned some major lessons this year. Make a list, and be thankful.
2. Celebrate Your Victories.
For every failure, you’ve probably had 10 other victories. What were the milestones of this last year? What were your proudest or most enjoyable moments? What new victories did your family win? What about physical accomplishments? You cannot over embellish this area. Acknowledge every place that you just nailed it and don’t be afraid to let it sink in.
3. Measure your growth.
Along the way, you’ve changed as a person. There have been moments that have drastically shaped your attitude and the condition of your heart. What internal breakthroughs can you claim as yours? What have you overcome in your heart and mind to end the year where you are? What moments have pain have shaped you? What has changed in you? These things are signs of growth.
4. Honor Your Friendships.
Don’t forget the people that have walked with you. Who are the 5 − 7 people that have been the major shaping influences on your journey? Who has encouraged you and stood with you? Who are the people you haven’t yet thanked? I would suggest taking time to thank God for these people, and then let them know you did so.
5. Acknowledge Your Creations.
Your labor and your art is worship to our Creator. What did you work on this year that didn’t previously exist? What home projects or fun projects did you put your hand to? What advancements did you make on the new record or the book you want to write? How did you take steps forward with your creative projects and dreams?
6. Give Glory to Jesus.
As a final word to wrap things up, take time to thank the Giver of life. Give him a hand. Seriously. How about a round of applause? Think of everything He has revealed about Himself in this last season. Remember the whispers of His voice as you walked through dark nights of soul. Thank Him for His smile and the unending joy He feels when He thinks about you. This is what it’s all about.