Happy New Year! We express this formula each year by email, text, and the spoken word. Our wish expressed a desire for a year that is peaceful, happy, healthy—what we’d call a “good” year. We look back on certain periods and say, “That was a good year.”

I’m guessing no one will say that about 2020. When you hear the phrase this year, it’s often joined by, “It has to be better than this year!” We began 2020 with optimism for the new year ahead of us, armed with the well-wishes of our friends and family, confident that God would lead us through it with few bumps along the way.

Not only did we all experience a gigantic “bump”, but one that affected everyone on the planet in some way or another. Many people lost loved-ones; others lost a business they’d poured their hearts into for years. Yet one thing we counted on did happen: God led us through these tribulations and will continue to do so in 2021.

If you’re like me, you’ve felt a loss of control with a clarity that takes your breath away. What happens when the entire world’s population is threatened with a virus? It’s the stuff of the next blockbuster disaster movie, not our daily lives, right?

We’re living the movie.

I’ve written and talked about silver linings. I know several people who have had silver linings in different parts of their lives, professional, relational, and in personal growth, among others. In this year, we’ve developed new habits, resurrected old hobbies. We’ve accomplished goals. We’ve been pushed to do this by circumstances and the results have been postitive.

In France, people were charged a fine for a while if they left their homes more than one hour per day without a document from an employer or physician! One friend in Paris was proactive. She cleaned her windows so she could at least enjoy the spring through glass panes. She set to work cleaning, organizing and getting rid of old junk in her apartment, tasks she thought she’d never get around to. She did work from home but stayed creative (making purses out of old fabric swatches, knitting, fabricating who knows what else.)

That spirit of proactivity and faith will take us into 2021. Though we sometimes feel helpless about certain things, we’ve seen what we can do if we must. What can we do now to move the needle in our lives in 2021? What can I do to continue growing spiritually, as a writer, personally? How can I be proactive in my health, attitude, and thoughts?

There is always something we can do in the context of faith, even if it’s only a mental shift (which is huge). Each year, I like to look at different areas of my life: spiritual, social, relational, physical, professional, artistic, and see where I want and need to grow. I don’t approach this as something bad that needs to be rescued (though that may be the case for some of us in a few of these areas. You know what that is for you!) It’s about growing, moving the needle in at least a small way. Any growth is reason to be encouraged. No guilt here! If we think in terms of growth and we see even a small measure, we succeed.

That’s why I’m always enthused about the New Year. It is a new chapter that I hope will be good. No guarantees, as we saw in 2020, but God’s faithfulness is daily and sure. This reminds me of the first line of a song I wrote about 15 years ago:

“You never said it would be smooth and easy. But You promised You’d be there and never leave. And each step of the way, You’ve held my hand faithfully. Without You, Lord, how empty life would be.”

And how hopeless.

He gives us hope for tomorrow and for 2021 and beyond.

I wish you a “Happy” New Year, but one undergirded by His presence and faithfulness, partnered with our proactive desire to grow. May 2021 be characterized by walking closer with Him and with seeing the needle of growth move in the important areas of your life.

And good health to all!


PS Julia Redesigned is on the website, so I hope you’ll take a look and read Chapter One!

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