Growing up, New Year’s Eve meant late night church services, exciting times with friends, and staying up late. But, a mere few months after our marriage crisis, the days leading to New Year’s celebrations felt uncertain and anxiety-laden.
As an adult, typically, I’d spent the last week of the year planning for the next.
Maybe even dreaming a bit. Not that year. I dreaded what might be coming. Would there be more pain linked to new discoveries? While I wanted to believe we had everything out in the open, did we?
My counselor and our coaches encouraged us to finish the year well using the following questions.
Please grab your journal to help you process through these questions.
1. What were the highlights of the year?
When facing any kind of crisis, it’s easy to overlook the positives. This exercise allows you to review the good things in the last twelve months. You did experience blessings, joys, and positives, but you need to search for them because pain and shock tend to overshadow them.
God reminds us in Psalm 23 that he prepares a lavish feast for us in the presence of our enemies. He doesn’t wait for everything to be perfect, but he lovingly cares for us when we are in pain. Take a few moments to read Psalm 23. How has God provided for you this last year? Write your highlight discoveries down.
2. What were the low points of the year?
While this might seem like an easier question to answer than the first, identifying the hard parts of the year helps you close open loops in your mind, heart, and soul. All of us spend energy every day thinking about the things or people who’ve wounded us. Therefore, we need to get these issues out of our subconscious and into the forefront of our thoughts so we can deal with them.
In Psalm 139:23, the writer asks God to search his heart and anxious thoughts. Write down the wounds you feel, the events from the past year that hurt. What caused grief? Your journal creates a safe place for you to gather these thoughts, to get out what pain remains. As you write out these low points, pay attention to the emotions connected with each. Play detective with your thoughts and life. What do you discover?
3. Does anything remain unresolved?
This next question dovetails off the previous. In identifying your low points, you may have unresolved conflict with another person. Perhaps you struggle to forgive your husband for his porn struggle or other betrayal trauma. You need to resolve these issues as much as possible to take the next step forward in your healing process.
Jesus told the disciples a parable about forgiveness in Matthew 18. Identify where you struggle to forgive and invite the Holy Spirit to do the work in you to unhook you from this issue. Think of this resolution as peeling off a layer of an onion. Start at the most obvious: the first layer. God, in his mercy, will help you work through the layers when you are ready. Take a few moments to jot down these unresolved issues. What is within your power to resolve? How will you do that?
It’s common to push forward into a new year without closing out the last.
But would you take the time before you head to your New Year’s Eve celebration to work through these questions?
Celebrate your highlights. Don’t minimize or brush past them. Be grateful for each blessing. If you can, review these with your husband and ask him about his highlights.
Those low points and unresolved issues? Ask God to heal the hurts, give you grace for yourself and others, and increase your capacity to forgive. You can drop this baggage one piece at a time and free yourself to move forward.
When you do, I believe you’ll start the New Year with a sense of peace and satisfaction.
Once again, I join you in this exercise. If you need help closing out this year well, please reach out. You aren’t alone. I promise to listen without judgment and point you to the One who restores and redeems. Let’s talk.