by Mackenzie Matthews on December 27, 2021
There is a special kind of beauty that comes with the final days of a year. When the Christmas parties and hosting concludes. When the hustle and stress of "pulling off the holidays" come to an end. Then there just might be room to rest. This is the time to exhale your breath, enjoy the remaining remnants of Christmas while looking forward to a new year.
Maybe you are deep cleaning your house and making plans to do Whole30 in January. Plenty of surfaces to clean and veggies to prep! Maybe you are filling your time with family activities to make the host of any off-time you get. This time could still be full. I get that. But, I want to encourage you to find a little pocket of time in these final days of this year to slow down. To rest intentionally, and to dive down into some reflecting about what this year has been.
Our culture will immediately start to move to 2022. Time to get a Peloton and lose a toddler's worth of weight by Valentine's Day! So many goals to crush. A new year is a beautiful thing. A new start. And believe me when I tell you that your girl loves a good goal and wouldn't mind losing a toddler's worth of weight by Valentine's Day. But before I get on to the hustle of 2022, I want to make space to remember.
A command we see throughout scripture is the command to remember. To remember God's power and His presence. We are told to recount what He has done because we are forgetful. Israel got themselves into trouble when they forgot God's power and presence.
In the days of Exodus, they were cared for so tangibly by God. He parted the Red Sea and saved them from their enemies. His spirit led them by fire at night and a cloud by day. Sustenance literally rained down on them. And still, they forgot.
Here is how it's described in Exodus:
"The Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left." (Ex 14:21–22) NIV
I imagine it like any 90s kid as depicted in the 1998 classic The Prince of Egypt:
"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." (Ex 13:21–22) NIV
"So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, 'In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?' Moses also said, 'You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.' " (Ex 16:6–8) NIV
The reality is they were grumbly. I've heard it said that they left slavery in Egypt but it took them 40 years for "Egypt" to leave them.
I tend to think I would be different. If God gave me food from the sky I would remember this. If I walked through the sea on dry land I would remember this! But I am no better. I am prone to forget.
So before we move into the grind of the next year, before we even start dreaming and praying about next year, how might you make space to remember? To reflect on how God has a plan for you and has met you and shaped you this year?
I always get sentimental about a new year. About how long or fast the year felt, how we struggled, how we adventured, how we grew. So I ask some questions and I leave time to journal through them. I love this more than my husband, but my ideal scenario for this is to go out on a date on New Year's Eve or close to it and discuss these together. Sometimes we combine this with our dreaming for next year. But I am telling you it is an art to slow down enough to remember and celebrate!
Questions To Remember and Celebrate a New Year
- What big things happened this year?
- What was the most challenging part?
- What was the most fun part?
- Where did I go?
- What words, themes, phrases, or scripture repeated itself around me?
- What music did I listen to? Any songs that were on repeat? (iykyk)
- What relationships did I invest in?
- What rhythms did I practice?
- What new things did I try?
- Where did I see God move?
- What am I most thankful for?
Now you surely don't have to use all of these, but you are welcome to! Whatever this short window of time before next year ends up looking like for you, I hope you get some time to rest and look back on your year.
"Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
(Ps 103:1–12) NIV