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December ... not just the pretty holidays

If January is a time for looking forward, then December is a time for looking back. It’s a good idea to take some time during this busy season to unwrap the lessons that the past year has for us and discover what surprising gifts might be waiting in the new year.

This past year, 2021, was a challenge for most of us. No matter where you fall on the political, religious, or COVID spectrum, it was hard. For some, it was VERY hard. It was a year punctuated by loss of many things – of people, ideas, and loyalties, among others.

A roll of ribbon with three small ornaments
Looking back at the ribbon of 2021

And yet, it had its blessings, too. No cloud is entirely without a silver lining, and many of us have found new excitement, new ways of working and connecting and new friends and opportunities during this difficult year.

So how do we take the lessons of 2021 and use them to make 2022 even better?

Here are some thoughts:

  • It’s often a good idea to evaluate the passing year. One way I like to do this is to look back at the goals and plans I set at the beginning and see where I’ve come up short, where I’ve exceeded my own expectations and where I’ve struggled but come out ok. As an example of the latter, I started the year with the desire to have a Virtual Assistant for Sanctuary Christian Counseling, since running a practice with seven therapists plus working a full therapy load was exhausting. I spent much of the year working hard to make this happen, with only limited success until just recently, when I found an amazing VA who has already done more than I could have expected of her. In my “struggled/but persevered” category, this is my major accomplishment, and I can move forward into 2022 knowing that if I keep my determination to fulfill a goal, I will eventually be successful. A pretty good encouragement for the new year.

  • I like to break my ruminations about the past year into categories, and journal about each one. I might talk about our family and the ways in which we have grown together in our love and friendship in 2021. Another category is my business, Sanctuary Christian Counseling, which is tied to my profession, being a licensed marriage and family therapist. Sanctuary has grown to seven therapists at this point – a tremendous accomplishment – and my life as an LMFT has been informed by earning a BC-TMH designation (Board Certified in Telemental Health) and pending sex therapy certification through ABCST (American Board of Christian Sex Therapists). Other areas that can be evaluated for growth or challenges from the past year are emotional and mental health, home life, hobbies, friendships, physical health, exercise, etc. The sky is the limit, and the categories might be completely different for everyone.

  • Give yourself a chance to honestly think through the year – maybe look at your calendar to remember it in more detail – and recall the ups and downs. Sit still and think – meditate if you can – on the lessons of the year. What were the highs and the lows? What did you learn? What was your biggest challenge and how did you meet it? What was your biggest success? Biggest failure? What gave you joy? What frustrated you? What was the best new thing you did, that you want to keep doing? What habits do you want to keep and what do you want to discard? What questions are important for you to ask at this tail end of the year?

  • Another thing to think about is the things that wasted your time this year – the baggage you absolutely do not want to carry with you into 2022. What are those things? What could you do differently?

Some people enjoy finding a word, a phrase or a Bible verse to describe their old year, in the same way that many seek to inspire themselves by defining a word, phrase or verse to flavor the new year. If this speaks to you, what would that be? If you already chose one at the beginning of the year, how did that turn out? Was your choice a good one for the year that you subsequently had? Or what do you wish you had chosen instead?

However you do it, reflecting back can not only be an enjoyable exercise, but a profitable one, as well, an activity that can give you direction and clarity about moving forward and guide you into what is actually important to you.

If you are experiencing marital distress, anxiety, depression or other issues, maybe 2022 is the year you should reach out for help. At Sanctuary Christian Counseling we help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection. Give us a call!

Sanctuary Christian Counseling

9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4

Shippensburg, PA 17257



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