“The river was mild and leisurely, going away from the people who ate shadows for breakfast and steam for lunch and vapours for supper. The river was very real; it held him comfortably and gave him the time at last, the leisure, to consider this month, this year, and a lifetime of years. He listened to his heart slow. His thoughts stopped rushing with his blood.”Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, pp. 133-134
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve always brings with it an odd sort of lull. The festivities and expectations leading up to the holidays have mostly finished, and yet, we’re not quite ready to return to the normal swing of our daily lives. This slow week, with the Christmas decorations waiting to be put away and the leftover cookies still sitting in our pantries, is a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on the past year.
As we prepare to enter 2022, taking time to reflect can help us calm our spirits and recharge. We each need space to process our experiences: all the blessings and losses and changes. When we think through these events, we find reminders of God’s goodness in His gifts to us and evidence of His faithfulness in the midst of our hardest challenges. We give ourselves a chance to pause. To breathe.
So before the new year comes rushing in, I encourage you to find a few moments to slow down. Brew yourself a cup of tea. Sit in a quiet space. Make peace with the past year and consider all the hope the Lord has to offer for the new one.
For me, this time of reflection usually looks like a year-end journaling session (despite the fact that I don’t actually journal on a regular basis). To help inspire your year-end meditations, I’d like to share a few topics I typically like to think back on. I hope these journaling prompts will be useful and encouraging to you.
4 Year-End Journaling Prompts:
1: Make a list of your year’s headlines:
Look back at your year and make a list, with one-to-two line summaries, of any major changes that have occurred, good or bad. Job changes, births of new family members, losses of loved ones, even simple things like major birthdays. (For example, my baby brother turned 18 this year, and I still can’t wrap my mind around it). I find that seeing a list of all that’s occurred helps me put into perspective just how much can happen in a brief time.
2: Jot down areas of growth:
What lessons have you learned this year? Have you noticed any self-improvement in areas you’ve been working on, such as becoming more patient or eating healthier? Are there any skills you spent time developing, projects you came closer to completing, or hard decisions you finally made? Do you have any close relationships you’ve deepened or new friendships you’ve formed? Each of these things is a milestone or blessing to be celebrated, so take time to recognize them.
3: Consider How God’s been working in your life:
Think back on any answered prayers or moments that you’ve felt the Lord at work in your life this year. Take time to dwell on those moments. Write down verses that have stood out to you, or reflect on times of fellowship with other believers.
If this year has been a hard one on your faith, a time when you’ve felt empty, take a moment to reflect on that as well. Write out your questions, pour out your worries once more, and bring them to God in prayer. He’s big enough to take on your doubts or anger, and writing out those feelings can help you release some of the weight of your concerns. At the end of the day, the doubts that drive the biggest wedge between us and God are then ones we don’t bring to the Father.
4: Write a prayer for the new year:
Thank the Lord for the blessings He’s given, and then bring your hopes and/or worries for the New Year to God. If you’re feeling excited for the New Year, pray that the Lord would be at work; that He would use your goals for His glory; that He would provide direction and perseverance. If you’re feeling anxious about what 2022 will bring, pray for peace and the strength to face any challenges. If you’re feeling hurt or your faith is dry, pray for healing and renewal. Written prayers can be a powerful way to place our trust in the Lord, and to have a record to look back on later and see how God answered and provided.
Blessings for the New Year
My prayer for you this year is that the Lord will provide for you in all things. I pray that He will provide direction and wisdom in each situation you face. I pray that He’ll provide encouragement in your writing and give you words to speak. Most of all, I pray that He’ll provide you with peace and joy in abundance, and that He’ll quiet your mind and heart amidst life’s crazy adventure.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”– 2 Thess. 3:16 (ESV)