A Fresh Start

Now that you’ve survived another holiday season – ate too much, spent too much, stressed too much about too many activities and too few meaningful moments – it’s time to stop and take a deep breath. Even if you thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the holidays, you may still be so exhausted you feel like the reindeer ran over you. But perhaps this “most wonderful time of the year” wasn’t all you hoped it to be.

The malaise this time of year is so commonplace it now has a term: holiday depression. The season of joy may have magnified the ache of loved ones who are no longer present with you. Or it clarified your disillusionment to realize that your family is far from the ideal one crammed down your throat in every Christmas movie and Hallmark card. And then there’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, often called SAD. This disorder, caused by lack of light during the winter months, can affect your mood and energy level.

To make matters worse, now, when you’re already feeling down, is the time you’re expected to make New Year’s Resolutions. These empty promises usually produce more guilt from not keeping them than they do results. I read that 30% of all resolutions are broken within the first week of January, and 80% are ignored by Valentine’s Day. Feelings of inadequacy from failed resolutions compound the despondency.

Rather than make grandiose resolutions, I like to set simple goals. I take some time at the beginning of each year to think through how I’ve invested my time, energy, passions, and finances this past year. Dream of what you want your life to look like by this time next year, and write down what you need to accomplish each month to get there – in bite-size, realistic, attainable goals.

A new year symbolizes the fresh start that we can find every day in a relationship with Christ. We give Him our scarred or broken hearts, release our burdens and unfulfilled dreams to His capable hands. In their place, He offers us forgiveness and grace. A new heart. Another chance. A fresh start in 2011.

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