Opening Prayer: O God, as we come to the end of another year, help us to look back on all that has happened—both to us and in us—only as it is helpful to looking forward to all that you long to do in us and through us in the year to come. Thank you that you long to do a new thing. Help us to be totally open to whatever that may be. For your Kingdom and your glory we pray. Amen.
Scripture: Isaiah 43:16-21
Journal: What new thing do you long for God to do in you in the coming year? What former things do you need to forget?
The years that lie behind you, with all their struggles and pains, will in time be remembered only as the way that led to your new life. But as long as the new life is not fully yours, your memories will continue to cause you pain. When you keep reliving painful events of the past, you can feel victimized by them. But there is a way of telling your story that does not create pain. Then, also, the need to tell your story will become less pressing. You will see that you are no longer there: the past is gone, the pain has left you, you no longer have to go back and relive it, you no longer depend on your past to identify yourself.
There are two ways of telling your story. One is to tell it compulsively and urgently, to keep returning to it because you see your present suffering as the result of your past experiences. But there is another way. You can tell your story from the place where it no longer dominates you. You can speak about it with a certain distance and see it as the way to your present freedom. The compulsion to tell your story is gone. From the perspective of the life you now live and the distance you now have, your past does not loom over you. It has lost its weight and can be remembered as God’s way of making you more compassionate and understanding toward others. (The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen)
Closing Prayer: Lord God, do a new thing in me, both this day and this year. And when you do, please give me eyes to see it and a heart to perceive—and receive—it. Through your son Jesus, who makes all things new, I pray. Amen.