Ending a Year

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender invites us to reflect on everything that the past year has held: the highs and lows, both the glory and the heartache. Before we can begin 2017, says Dan, we must end 2016—and ending well shapes our capacity to step into our desires for the future and God’s desires on our behalf.

“The purpose of walking through a year is in many ways to walk through the debris of heartache, failure, disappointment, disillusionment, and to walk through equally something of the wonder, and the beauty, and the surprise, and what it means to taste something of the goodness of God in the land of the living.”

Life is too full and too fast, so there’s always the next new thing.

Of course, ending is hard. We would rather turn our face forward than look at the debris and the beauty of the past year. So Dan offers a few categories to guide us in this process, believing that reflecting on what we have learned in 2016 will shape who we are in 2017.

These categories include: looking for the major themes of the year and the patterns that come up again and again as you look back; identifying particular moments, scenes, and encounters that linger with you; naming the places of heartache and what has made you weep in the last year; then, equally crucial, locating and naming the places of surprise—whether it’s the surprise of sorrow and disappointment or delight and goodness.

Dan invites us to carve out time in the coming days to look back at photos, calendars, journals, and memories, allowing ourselves to feel the rhythms of the past year. Dan shares what he learned from his own process of journaling about 2016, including the thrill of launching new projects as well as the disappointment of reality not matching our dreams and the regret of missed opportunities.

“The task for each of our lives is to reflect on gratitude, to engage failure, to imagine what redemption will hold. And the more grateful we are, the more we are disturbed by the brokenness of our own lives, the more our hearts are then open to engage and not shut down, to not fail to dream again and again what redemption is for us, for others, for ourselves.”

All of us at The Allender Center and The Seattle School wish you a very happy New Year. Join us next week as we look forward and wrestle with how to begin a new year with intentionality and care.