Had a Rough Year? How to Turn Painful Experiences into Next Year’s Blessings

Did you have a rough year? I know I had one. I had breakthrough successes, as well as many painful experiences. It is easy to wallow in the pain and there’s a tendency to forget the blessings. Whether in good or bad times, there is one constant: God is good, all the time. I hang on to this truth, and the promise it holds.

When the year is about to end, we are in a special position to look back on the year that was, and at the same time look forward to the year that will be. Interestingly, Janus, a greek mythological god, has two faces — each one facing opposite directions. You’d figure out by now that its where the month January gets its name.

At this particular time, we have the privilege to have both hindsight and foresight.

The Beauty of Hindsight

When we look back, we can start to make sense of things. We can ask ourselves:

  1. What worked for me last year?
  2. What were my most painful lessons?

We evaluate. I looked up the etymology of the word evaluate, and here it is:

Mid 19th century (earlier ( mid 18th century) as evaluation): from French évaluer, from es- (from Latin ex-) ‘out, from’ + Old French value ‘value’. (en.oxforddictionaries.com)

So, hindsight helps us get the VALUE OUT OF our experiences. So, if you ever experienced failures last year (of which I experienced a lot!), you can ask yourself, “What value can I get out of these painful experiences?”. For what worked for you, you can ask “How can I increase the value of that success?”

The Excitement of Foresight

family visioning.jpg

During the Christmas break, our family went for a Family Visioning. My wife and kids were very excited. We started with what we should Start, Stop, and Continue as a way of evaluating, then I led them to draw what they see for 2018. At the end of the fun exercise we were able to formulate a clear theme, decide on new habits, and set specific goals and activities for the year to come. It was exciting! We offered to God our plans, and asked Him to bless it — meaning, He can change it if He wants to. God knows best, and we did our best to discern His will.

This is what excites me: The truth that God provides.

A good friend, shared to me. “Kirby, do you know what provide means?” He revealed, “It comes from the latin providere —  pro means ‘before’ and videre means to see.” He continues, “God already knows what you need, he has prepared beforehand. This reminded me of Matthew 6:8:

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The question would be, “How much of His will do we want to happen next year?” I believe that if we surrender fully, his generosity and abundance will flow fully. Let us surrender habits that tend to create patterns for our failures. Habits of procrastination, grumbling, blaming, and defeatism. We all have recurring sins that block God’s flow of blessings upon us and our families. There is much grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To reconcile is to be aligned to God’s plan for our lives, by way of nurturing a friendship that makes us familiar to His voice.

My prayer for you: That you may experience profound joy for the new year. A joy that is founded on the truth that amidst our difficulties for the past year, God remains as our hope; and that He loves us so that He can’t wait to bless us. 

Look back with thanksgiving, and look forward to an abundant year ahead! Claim it!

“Ask and it will be given to you . . . ” (Luke 11: 9)

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