Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Reflection

This past May I was in Hawaii for a combined birthday/anniversary trip. Zac and I were in Hawaii on my actual birthday, and as I prepared for the trip I dreamed about all the cool things I could do to welcome in my 30's. The idea I finally landed on was to wake up before dawn, hike to a mountain peak, and watch the sunrise on my first day of being 30. Doesn't that sound glorious?

It didn't happen. It didn't happen for multiple reasons. The evening before my birthday we took a romantic dinner sailboat tour during which I got seasick. I'll spare the details, but let's just say I was not excited about getting up early the next day to go hiking before dawn. As we were winding up the sailboat tour and I was feeling better, I stood at the back of the boat and watched the sun set.

As the sun set, I reflected on my plans and compared them to how everything actually turned out. Instead of watching the sun rise on my 30th birthday, I was watching the sun set on my last day being 29. I thought about the significance of that and how reflective it was of how I was viewing my 30's. I was looking forward to all that there was to come, but in doing so I was forgetting to look back at the last year and decade of my life and remember all that there had been.

I began thinking about when I was 20 and the big things that happened that year of my life. So much happened during that entire decade! I graduated from college, did a year of volunteer work, met and married my husband, chose a career...the list goes on and on! I was thankful to have the opportunity on the sailboat to stop and reflect on the previous decade. This would have been bypassed had I been only focusing on welcoming in my 30's.

As I welcome the new year, I feel similarly. I spent so much time thinking about who I was going to spend New Year's Eve with, where we would go, what food I would prepare, and what things we would do. I thought about all that 2012 would bring and the wonderful changes that lay ahead for me. It's good and it's fun to think ahead, but it's also important to remember the past.

Today's entry in my Advent devotional, Child of the Light, encouraged reflecting on 2011, so I spent a good chunk of time at a coffee shop this morning thinking back over the year. To help me think about the past year, I used the suggested scripture passage, writing it out line by line and writing a few sentences about each line from my year. Here is the passage I used, from Ecclesiastes 3:

1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

2a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

This was incredibly meaningful for me, and I suggest it for you too. Take some time to think back on the year that was completed. Who were you when it started and who are you now because of the events from the past year? What ways have you grown and what have you learned about yourself?

Happy New Year, and happy old year too. :)

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