by Ariane Cunningham
What a year this has been! I am sure many of us are in reflection mode as we look back at 2017, and prepare to do things differently in 2018, like exercising more, reading more, giving more. These are all fantastic aspirations for the new year and are attainable. As I reflect on the last year, the first word that comes to mind is “Wow”. Did all of that really happen? 2017 was not all roses and sunshine for me. I learned a lot, I experienced a whole lot, I was also blessed with a lot. The typical aspiration of most is to proclaim what they want to do differently in the New Year. Personally, there are four intangible things I want to take into the New Year, including God’s Love, Forgiveness, Gratitude and Hope.
God’s Love. There is an old Christian hymn whose chorus goes like this “If it had not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be?” From personal experience, this is my summation of 2017. If it had not been for God’s love and his everlasting grace and mercy, I wouldn’t have discovered how fulfilling it is to blog and write to not only motivate and encourage others, but to also motivate myself in my darkest moments. If it had not been for God’s divine gift of spiritual discernment, I would have walked fully into certain situations without listening to my gut, or God, saying STOP, DANGER AHEAD. If it had not been for God’s healing, I wouldn’t be cancer free in 2017, right now, today, after an emergency appendectomy in 2016 in which a surgeon found a cancerous tumor in my appendix. If it had not been for God’s faithfulness, I wouldn’t have the testimony of being diagnosed with stage one cancer in 2016, and two months later, after the emergency appendectomy, receiving a report from my Oncologist saying not only that the cancer had not metastasized and couldn’t be found, but there was a 99.9 percent chance that the cancer will NEVER return. I remain cancer free today. God is the center of my joy, the center of my healing, and he will continue to be the center of my life in 2018 and years to come.
Forgiveness. Such a simple word, but so hard for those who have even the strongest faith. Like most of you, I have been betrayed, deceived, and treated unfairly. I find forgiveness very interesting as it is quite easy to say, “I forgive you,” but it doesn’t take away the hurt or pain of feeling wronged, often by those for whom we care most. As Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget (or forgive) what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Forgiveness is a journey, but it is a necessary journey. Holding on to bitterness, anger, and hate is more damaging to our health and our spirit than most sicknesses. The journey of forgiveness is something I will continue into 2018 as, just as I need to forgive, our heavenly Father forgives us of all our sins and transgressions, separating them as far as the East is from the West. (Psalms 103:12)
Gratitude. One of the most important lessons I learned in 2017 is to be grateful for what I presently have, including a healthy and loving family, amazing friends that God has brought into my life within the last year, and having the health and strength to get up every morning to enjoy all the many blessings in my life. Once we are grateful for that which we already have, God will bless us with that for which we pray he will give to us.
Hope. “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”. (Romans 8:25) There are so many things for which I hoped for in 2017, that have not yet manifested in my life. This does not mean the things for which I hope will never manifest. There is no “false sense of hope”, when it comes to waiting patiently for that which we hope. I will continue to hope for a loving, kind, God-fearing companion who loves God as much as I do, I will continue to hope that our children will grow up and be the integral change we need in this world, I will continue to hope that through God, all things are possible. Lastly I will continue to have hope in one of my favorite verses from the Bible, “We boast in the hope of the Glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
Let’s take these four things into the New Year: God’s Love, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Hope.
Happy New Year!