Every year, I make the same resolutions, and every year, I fail to carry them out. So my resolution for 2016 is: stick to my resolutions.
Nonetheless, my failure to abide by my resolutions has not stopped me from saying this prayer this year. It’s the same one I say every year, and it goes like this: “Dear God, I commit this year to you. As I make my career plans, I pray that above all I’ll continue to seek your will first. Give me the desire to know you more, to love you more, and to spend many great moments in conversations with you.”
My other resolutions for this year include completing 2km at my weekly swim sessions, taking better care of my skin (cleanse, tone, and moisturize every evening), and battling my way through Victor Hugo’s 1,488-page Les Miserables.
I can almost guarantee that I would have broken all these resolutions by the end of January. I’ve started on Hugo’s novel, but I’ve covered all of three pages so far. Swimming 1.5km sounds like about all I can manage in the pool. And as for spending “many great moments in conversations” with God—well, I’ve spent the bulk of my Christmas/New Year holidays watching Netflix.
However, there is something about the New Year which makes me want to start the next 365 days on a clean slate.
Truth be told, both 2014 and 2015 were difficult years for me, and I wouldn’t want to relive them. In 2014, I was working as a reporter with a regional daily newspaper. Chasing hard news stories coupled with the long work hours and demanding deadlines was challenging. I remember cold-calling someone for a comment after a tragic car accident, only to have the person breaking down on the other end the moment I introduced myself.
So, in early 2015, I handed in my resignation because I decided it was time to pursue other avenues. The decision to stop reporting was not an easy one, but it was something that I had to do because the workload was taking a toll on my health.
It was like watching my dreams die a brutal death. I had wanted to be a journalist since I was 12 years old. I had lofty dreams of winning a Pulitzer Prize, writing an investigative piece, and being a voice for the voiceless, but all these dreams vanished the moment I handed in my resignation letter.
The second half of 2015 comprised days of job hunting, crying over rejection letters, and many nights questioning the purpose of life. At one point, I told God I was done with writing, and He’d better be okay with that. But God said otherwise, so I stepped out in obedience by joining the YMI team as a contributor.
Looking back, I’m grateful for the stormy seasons. Admittedly, it was a struggle to press through the trials and obstacles, and there were times when it felt like God had abandoned me. On hindsight, however, I can see that He was using the tough times to mold my character and grow my perseverance and determination. There is much truth in James 1:2–3, which tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
I don’t know what 2015 has been like for you. Maybe it was a wonderful year, and you saw God at work with answered prayers, miracles, and blessings. Or maybe it was a tough year, and you felt like God had forsaken you as prayers went unanswered and problems came one after another. Or perhaps you had set yourself a list of goals to achieve in 2015, but failed to tick a few off.
The good news is: you don’t have to wait another 365 days to start anew. God’s mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:23), and every day is a new day with God. So if your goal is to eat less candy, and you’ve somehow managed to down an entire bag of chocolates, you can still wake up the following morning and say, “Today is a new day to start afresh.”
As we step into the New Year, filled with dreams and hopes, can I encourage you to come before Him as you are, and let Him wash away your hurts, disappointments, and sins. Don’t let your past mistakes, trials, and failures hold you back.
Let’s seek God first in everything we do; He will bless us with everything we need (Matthew 6:33). I don’t know what 2016 holds for you and me, but I know God has a wonderful future in store for us.