“Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
We are moving once again to the beginning of a new year, filled, just as the old one was, with both joys and sorrows, delights and challenges, and pleasures and discomforts.
At the end of a year, I often see (and often participate in myself) the practice of looking back on the year that was with an irritation and relief: “I’m glad that’s over,” and “What a horrible year,” and “Good riddance.” Nostalgia for years past seems to take a few years to polish up and make us long for “the good old days” we were so glad to see gone as they ended.
I wonder if part of that is “sour grapes:” if the year has to be over, we will say to ourselves, “Fine; it wasn’t a very good year for me anyway.” On the other hand, for some of us, 2022 was a very difficult year filled with hardship and challenge and loss that we never want to experience again, and I don’t want to discount that in any way.
But I also want to draw our attention to the good and beautiful things that happened in 2022. For me, that can mean looking back at photos in my phone, or social media posts, or just stopping for a moment to think about good things that happened that year. I really don’t do that enough.
One Christmas, a friend gave me a pad of notes to write down one good thing that happened that day each day for a year, and a basket to put the notes in so I could look back on it at the end of that year and see it as more than simply a series of troubles coming to an end. Like most of us, I struggle with forming habits, so the basket only had a few notes in it by the end of the year, but I still think it was a good idea and if you can do it, I think I would recommend it.
I hope you can look back on your life in 2022 not only with a sense of “good riddance,” but also with kindness and gratitude for all the good God has given you, and with gratitude for God bringing you through all its challenges.
With blessings on your memory of 2022, and on your living of 2023,
Rev. David Schell