A Note from Chris Adams: How many of you are ready to start a new year and kiss 2016 goodbye? Perhaps you’ve had an extremely challenging year and just want it to be over. 2017 holds the hope of a better year, right? Only God knows everything we will face in the new year, but we can hold fast to our knowledge of this faithful, loving God no matter what is ahead.
As a leader, no doubt you will minister to women who are scared about a new year and also those who are ready to run into it due to the issues they faced in 2016. Today, Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA) helps us to know what to do to help women journey forward into 2017 knowing a loving Father walks with them as they do.
New Year’s Eve. Fireworks, parties, a kiss at midnight, and a feeling of great expectations of what is to come! Or, is it a feeling of “good riddance to bad rubbish”?
Here’s a look at my New Year’s messiness:
The last two years, I have literally gone outside and jumped for joy when the clock struck midnight leaving the year in the past. Each time, I was ready to move on with high expectations of an incredible new year. I slept peacefully, ready for the wonderfulness that was coming our way. Then the year turned out to be one of challenges, trials, and tribulations. But in the midst, a grandson was added to our family making everything better. We survived.
The next New Year came around and the same scene played out. Dancing in the street and jumping for joy at midnight! A granddaughter was born shortly thereafter, and the year was starting out fabulously.
And then the flood came.
Things got very messy in Louisiana. For the next six months, my son, his wife, and their two children lived with my husband and I. We loved the memories that were made. The faith, sweetness, and wisdom of our daughter-in-law made living together a treasured time in the midst of the stress of the loss and rebuilding.
And then things got even messier. We are still in the midst of the messy—a mess that means a complete change for every member of our family. A major move and a new adventure are on the calendar for 2017. New Year’s will find us whooping and hollering, anxious for a new year of possibilities.
But this is not all about me.
From the years of challenges, I have learned to take the challenging years and learn from them. That means the hurts, heartaches, and losses I’ve experienced become learning experiences for the future rather than adding to the list of issues that I need to tackle!
How do you move on from a messy year? Ask yourself these honest questions:
- What can I learn from this messy year?
- What went wrong?
- How do I feel about what went wrong?
- How did I react and how did others react/see what went wrong?
- What did I do wrong?
- This one is tough. I have to be willing to dig a little deeper into areas I may not want to go into.
- I have to look at this without becoming defensive or justifying my actions. I can only do that with God’s help!
- Am I willing to admit where I went wrong, confess any sins, and ask forgiveness from God and others?
- What do I want to leave behind?
- Was the messiness of the year created by someone else? If so, am I willing to forgive them?
- Am I holding any bitterness or resentment toward others?
- Here’s how to remove resentment: Write down what happened, how you feel about it, what each person’s role was, what your role was, and what needs to happen to move forward. Seek God’s help in forgiveness. Pray throughout this process!
- How can I prevent another messy year?
- How is my walk with Christ going to change in the coming year?
- Should I enlist others to pray with me about the messiness in my life?
- Repeating the same choices leads to the similar results each time. Am I willing to change? Set up boundaries? Distance myself from toxic relationships?
In the midst of all the messiness of my life, God has faithfully made His presence and His work known. He has prepared me for the messiness before it came. He provided me scriptural support by giving me a specific verse or word to study each year. He’ll do the same for you.
In December 2015, God gave me the verse, Matthew 7:6: Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.
My grands call me “Pearl” but there’s more to this verse than that. In April 2015, sitting on the beach in Key Largo, FL, my husband began talking about the verse God had shown him for the year to study. It was the same verse. I can’t explain why this verse was given to us both, but I have no doubts. God has taught us much this year through this one verse. This one verse is getting us through the messiness of the year.
God is greater than any New Year messiness!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.