Friday, January 3, 2014

Live, Learn, & Let Go: Lessons from 2013

Another year has past, and most people have prepared some sort of flimsy, generic resolution list that they give a half-hearted go-at each year. I’m not being critical—we ALL do it. Lose ten pounds, eat healthier, work out more, read the Bible every morning, can the sarcasm, quit smoking, swearing, whining, (insert vice here). Others have chosen—or perhaps “received” would be more appropriate—a word to outline their focus for 2014. Nothing is wrong with either. We are always in need of improvement and direction.

But as we reminisce on the past year, all we’ve endured and accomplished, I can’t help but think we often fall into two categories.

Hindsight blind – or – Forward negligent

When we are hindsight blind we are too preoccupied with the past to truly move forward. We get hung up on old hurts, grudges, failures, or even deluded with sucessess and triumphs, and fail to use our experiences to propel us into the year ahead with lessons learned and hearts open for what’s ahead.

I remember when I lost a baby it was hard not to drag that hurt around with me, clouding my vision to the blessings and dawnings of new dreams and fresh starts.

Psalm 30:5 Though sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning.

You might be reflecting on 2013… perhaps it was a year of great growth and blessing. Perhaps it wasn’t. It may have been a year of unexpected difficulty. Struggle. Change. Rejection. But instead of slapping on some phony “better yourself” resolution that may never come to fruition, maybe we could just take one final look back and focus on what God taught us this year despite the ups and downs. Not only can we learn about ourselves, but we can see God’s plan, woven through even the toughest of times, preparing us for what’s ahead.

At the same time, other’s get so singularly focused on moving forward, they fail to pause and reflect, and they, in turn, glean nothing from that handy hindsight. This is what I’d call forward negligent. The past is such a critical learning tool. So often we stumble from year to year making the same mistakes, holding on to the same grudges, hurt anew by the same bitter roots of unforgiveness that we haven’t taken the time to dig up and take an ax to.

What about “forgetting what lies behind” or “letting old things pass away,” “becoming a new creation?” --An amazing gift from a loving God who sent his only Son to die for our redemption. But while God may be able to forget, and grant us his perfect forgiveness, I do believe he'd like us to take a moment to learn from our mistakes, acknowledge our limitations and where we tend to stumble, doubt, or fear so that we can call upon Him before we fall prey to our nature.

Most of us fall into one extreme or the other, failing to receive the benefits afforded by a mid-ground. I’ll admit, it’s a precarious balance—learning from your past, but not letting it rule your present… or your future. It’s really not something we can do in our own strength. It takes patience, brokenness, and a teachable spirit. It takes surrender.

So in favor of my fruitless checklist for self-improvement, or my fixation with the events of 2013 or the possibilities of 2014, I want to pause… open my eyes to what God taught me last year. Not to be ruled by my mistakes, but to learn from them, before I set them aside and begin the year anew. Ready to be molded, shaped, and refined in His image.

Here’s to a new year. May you take the lessons of 2013 and make this a year of immeasurable growth and blessing for you and your family.

Let’s chat! What do you hope to accomplish this year? Are you someone who sticks to your resolutions? And looking back, what do you think was the most important lesson you learned last year?

Amy Leigh Simpson writes Romantic Suspense that is heavy on the romance, unapologetically honest, laced with sass and humor, and full of the unfathomable Grace of God. She is the completely sleep deprived mama to two little tow-headed mischief makers and wife to her very own swoon-worthy hero. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.


Pepper said...

Great post, Ames.
It's tough not too worry about the future, especially when life is wonky - thankfully, God's already there and the assurance gives a great deal of comfort and hope.

Two things that are always needed whether we live in the past or in the future.

Here's for learning from the past, finding hope in the future, and living well in the present!!

My goals? Funny I should read your post right this moment because I was just praying about that. What do I want to write...right now? I've finished a project and have 5 possible options for a new project?!?

Personally, I want to be more faithful in my bible study and prayer life in 2014.

Love ya!

Angie Dicken said...

Great post, Amy. I needed to hear this RIGHT THIS MOMENT.
I sit hear, trying to write, feeling old feelings of rushing, worrying, and frustration. I am reverting back to all the stuff I felt this time last year...and I need to STOP!
I have learned so much this much about abiding, and moving at God's speed, not my own. If the words don't come out today, then I don't need to freak, just pray and listen for God's voice, or wait for his next nudge. Abide was my word last year, and Abundance is it this year...abundance in the moment, not in the stuff or the blessing. I need to let each moment be what God would have it be, instead of what I would want it to be.
Thanks for your words! Love you.

And Pepper, you always amaze me with your many many options and ideas! Love ya! If you want to brainstorm, give me a call!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh, Pep, thanks for sharing your heart. I love how you put it... "finding hope in the future, and living well in the present!!"

And I agree with Ang, I am constantly in awe of how supersonic your mind is. So much going on in there. I'm surprised you haven't been driven mad but all that genius. ;)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I'm so glad this was timely for you, Angie. I struggled so much with what to post this week. I didn't want this to be some generic soap box rant about the new year. But I feel we all do that same thing.... falling back into those old doubts when things hit a stand still. It's hard to hang on to those moments of clarity and peace from God when the devil keeps coming back to prey on our insecurities.

But just remember, if the enemy is working that hard to discourage you, God must have something big on the horizon that has that weasel shaking in his boots. God's got great things in store for you this year, Ang. I can't wait to see all the ways you grow. No matter what that means in the natural. Always praying for you. xo

Pepper said...

Snicker - who says I haven't? ;-)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Your incredibly wise friend and crit partner. ;)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I am a forward kind of gal. Always need something to do, perpetually checking what I've done to do it better.
It's one small step forward toward someday taking the giant leap in the right direction.
One of the best small steps forward is hangin' with the Alley Cats and our pals.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I couldn't agree more, Mare! So blessed by all the Alley Cats and friends!