We have reached the end of another year. It is now, on the brink of a new beginning, that we get a chance to look back on the year that has been. A chance to reflect on all it has meant to us, every moment good or bad that it has brought into our lives.
I remember this night last year. I remember dreaming and planning for 2015. I dreamt of a year where I would overcome my fatigue. I planned as though this would be the case, there was so much I wanted to achieve. This would be the year of targets met and goals reached. I also pictured a smooth transition into a new church, that I would find acceptance and belonging quickly. And if I’m honest, my main hope was that this would be the last year I spent single. I dreamt that by the year end I would have that person I could start to hope and plan with.
I had big dreams for this year.
And now as I reflect on this year, I have to admit that these dreams have not come to fruition. There have been many golden moments this year. Yet in truth, as I look back I am left with a sense of disappointment and frustration. I am struggling to reconcile the plans and dreams I had, with the reality of a year that seemed to mostly pass by in a blur of exhaustion.
Perhaps you find yourself in a similar place, where the reality of your year has been far from what you hoped for. Maybe you look back with pain, as you remember loved ones who you have lost. Or this year brought the slow hard grind of unemployment, of doors closing in your face. Perhaps your year has been marked by loneliness or the hurt of rejection. Or you may have found yourself battling through illness or watching someone you love suffer. A year can contain many moments of pain and heartbreak.
And now I am facing 2016 with a certain amount of fear and trepidation. I go into the year aware I have little strength and energy remaining to face whatever it holds. I am taking with me an illness that I have so far struggled to manage well, alongside working full time. Deep down I know that there will be some tough choices to be made in the months to come.
In the light of this fear, my instinct was to hope and dream for less. To think that if I lowered my hopes and dreamt smaller dreams, then perhaps I would avoid the sting of disappointment when the year fell short. I have been tempted to batten down the hatches and write off this year before it had even begun.
But as these doubts and fears filled my mind, one phrase,used by the charity To Write Love on Her Arms, became alive for me:
“We will be the hopeful”
These five simple words I have been remind me that hope is a powerful choice. It is the lens that changes the way we see the world. It gifts us with the tools to face life and all it’s challenges with grace and optimism. To stop hoping for the future is to extinguish the very fire that drives us to better things. Maybe we will fail and fall down many times along the way, but each time, hope is the thing that causes us to rise and try again. We may be disappointed at times. But what we can achieve with high hopes and big dreams will always be more than what we achieve with neither.
I don’t know what this next year will hold for any of us. No one can change or control what 2016 brings. But by choosing to be hopeful we can change our perspective on what may come. So this year I will be hoping and dreaming again. Whatever these 12 months bring, let us choose each day the simple motto, “We will be the hopeful”. With hope in our hearts we can weather many a storm.