Choosing gratitude as I move from 2019 to 2020

Over the last few days my social media stream has been full of reflections on the last decade, photos of people ten years ago and now, and people sharing their goals and dreams for the year ahead.

Over the last few days I have relished the first opportunity I’ve had in months to take some time off work and to actively not think about all the things I need to get done. It has been truly wonderful.

The end of 2019 felt like a hard slog. On many occasions I thought about blogging in November and December but I struggled to find the time or the mental energy to put my thoughts down in words.

But, I felt I needed to write something in order to get ‘unstuck’ as we move into 2020. So, last night I was thinking about how to write a little reflection I remembered a thought that the lovely Anna Mathur shared on Instagram a while ago. She shared how we can choose to say, ‘I get to…’ instead of focusing on difficult thing. It reminded me how easy it can be to spiral down into worry or ungratefulness and focus on the things that have been hard instead of focusing on what I can be grateful for (annoyingly I can’t find the exact post right now but I promise you that any time you spend scrolling through Anna’s Instagram will not be time wasted!)

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share how I might at first frame some of those difficult things and then how I am instead choosing to think of them.

  • Our car broke down multiple times. We used up our emergency savings and realised how close to the edge we were living financially. // I get to be part of an incredible family and community who were incredibly quick to provide practical and financial support.
  • We pay a lot of rent and are no where near buying a house. // We get to rent a home which we absolutely love. We actively chose the jobs we’ve done and have felt led by God to the places we’ve been and I am so grateful for those opportunities. I am choosing not to see owning our own home as a measurement of our ‘success’.
  • Freelancing is hard and I need to earn more money each month. // I get to do work which I absolutely love. This year we have managed to figure out how to budget really effectively and when we start earning more money I’m confident we might be able add to our savings again. Also, this year I got to write a book! We actively chose a year of creativity and living on a tight budget and it was so worth it.
  • I had a cold, and two flu-like viruses, over the last 6 weeks. I’m fed up. // I get to take readily available painkillers and cold & flu medicine. I get to rest whilst my family look after me. I get to be part of a wonderful team and when I couldn’t do a funeral because I had no voice my colleague did a fantastic job.

If I choose simply to focus on my initial thoughts then I wouldn’t move into a place of gratitude. I’d find myself worrying or dwelling on what I might have done differently. However, when I focus instead on what I’m grateful for, things shift. That’s not to say that the end of 2019 didn’t feel difficult. Focusing on gratitude doesn’t change my circumstances but it does change me.

I preached on Hebrews 12 at church in November in the midst of processing lots of this stuff. My sermon was all about fixing our eyes on Jesus and finishing strong. And, for me, that’s what I want to do. That’s what gratitude looks like. Fixing my eyes on Jesus in the midst of my weakness and struggles, focusing on thanking him, so that I can run the race with him, finishing strong.

And so to 2020. I have so much to look forward to this year and to be honest I’m a bit daunted by how on earth I’ll fit it in. However, armed with an excellent planner, a wonderfully supportive family and community, and a loving God, this year I get to:

  • start a new job
  • release a book
  • go on the radio to talk about my book
  • spend time with my family, including our gorgeous new nephew and our beautiful boys
  • continue to invest in my writing for print and online
  • help more families to put together funerals which reflect their loved ones and help them to say goodbye
  • preach at church
  • continue living in a house and town we love

So, here’s to 2020. For me, a year of continuing creativity and of continuing to choose gratitude.

What are you grateful for as you head into 2020?

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