How To Approach the New Year: Happy 2017

Sometime in November I mentioned to a friend that I was breaking up with 2016. It’s been an interesting, in many ways difficult, year. And yet, when I stopped a few evenings ago and really thought back over the year, all I saw was the goodness of God blanketing every hard thing. I’m learning this year to hold two opposing emotions about the same event. I’m glad to close the door on 2016 for many reasons but as I thought this through I realized something.

Nothing really changes when that ball drops at midnight on January 1st. It’s not magic. Life isn’t suddenly different. I’m not even suddenly different. Some of the difficult parts of 2016 won’t cease to be when the calendar changes to 2017; they will continue and new hard things will arise.

Now I love a new year as much as anyone. I’ve been working on goals for 2017 and I’m excited for what’s upcoming. But it doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will be rosy and all-worked-out like I would prefer.

So what do I do? Now that I want to break up with 2016 and 2017 is almost here, what happens next? Do I wait until the first bad thing in 2017 and then want to break up with that year? Of course not. I’ll waste my whole life with that mindset.


I go into 2017 the same way I’ve managed 2016: with my eyes on Jesus.

  • I can’t have my eyes on the circumstances. They are often not what I would want them to be. I can’t control my circumstances and often I can’t change even part of them. They cannot be my focal point.
  • I can’t have my eyes on others. I can’t be constantly wondering if they like me or are impressed with me or what they are doing that I’m not. There is no room for comparison or jealous or insecurity.
  • I can’t have my eyes on myself. That’s a miserable pity party waiting to happen.

I must fix my eyes on Jesus. When good things come, I can thank Him. When hard things come, I can know that He’s always at work.

A few weeks ago in our Advent series at church our Pastor was talking about Mary traveling to Bethlehem shortly before she delivered Jesus. It had to be miserable and uncomfortable and the last thing any pregnant woman would want to do. But do you know that God was doing something even then? Mary had to be in Bethlehem when Jesus was born in order to fulfill prophecy. Obviously my life is on a much smaller scale in the grand scheme but I can’t help but look back over my last year and realize that God had been at work in all of that too.

I don’t know if your 2016 was great or not. I don’t know what’s barreling ahead from 2017 or what will happen in our own little family. But I do know that God is at work. I know that God goes before me. I know that I must fix my eyes on Him.

I can’t wait for hard times to come to fix my eyes on Jesus. Then I will be distracted and in despair. I must have my eyes on Jesus now. I must have my eyes on Jesus in the mundane, when we wonder why I do the same things over and over. I must have my eyes on Jesus in the calm, when everyone is sleeping at night. I must have my eyes on Jesus when it gets loud and crazy, as it often is at our house. Then when the exciting arrives, I still have my eyes on Jesus. When the difficult comes, I still have my eyes on Jesus.

I closed the planner on 2016 this week. My brother has bought me a GET TO WORK book for the past two years and I’ve been unable to resist starting the new one immediately when the weeks overlap. Before I started finalizing goals for 2017 I stopped and wrote out some highs and lows of this year and when I finished I realized this has been a good year. Hard, unexpected, but smothered in God’s love and goodness. That’s all I can hope for from 2017 as well.

Let’s go into 2017 with our eyes on Jesus and let’s leave them there all year long.