Jeanne Takenaka

How do we prepare our hearts for the new year?

When the first day of 2021 rolled around, I was confident because I knew my One Word. I thought I had a good plan to move forward into a successful year. But I was utterly unprepared for all that 2021 held. Most of my writing plans went by the wayside. And my heart and mind and spirit? They were blindsided by everything 2021 was.

A snowy road leading between high rock walls. Sometimes it feels like hard seasons hedge us in on a narrow road with no way around
  • Deaths of family and friends
  • A biopsy
  • Contracting Covid
  • A boy-man making heartbreaking choices
  • Deep discouragement

I don’t list this so people feel sorry for me; this is a cross-cut of all 2021 was for our family. 

And I wasn’t spiritually prepared to grapple with all the stress these events brought on. I lived in reactor mode rather than trust-God mode

So, how do we prepare our hearts and minds for the unexpected this year will throw at us?

A road leading between two red rock walls . . . when we walk on a path, God sometimes keeps us in narrow places to prepare our hearts for situations

How to Prepare our Hearts:

  • Decide when in our day—each day—we will spend time with the Lord in His word and prayer. Having this daily habit prepares us for when the struggles come.
  • Remember—maybe even journal—the ways we saw God show up in our life last year. These can be like an altar of remembrance for us when we face struggles this year.
  • If we have One Word we’re focusing on, ask the Lord to give us verses to meditate on. Ask Him to give us eyes to see how He’s speaking to us regarding our One Word.
  • Consider where we struggled last year and bring those before the Lord. Ask Him to renew our hearts and minds in those areas. For me? Fear. I’m asking the Lord to show me when and why I’m reacting in fear in a given situations and to help me change the focus of my thoughts.
A deserted road leading past a rock column . . . God leads us in ways and places that help us prepare our hearts and minds for a new year

How to Prepare our Minds:

  • Determine in our thoughts that we will cling to the Lord, even if the worst happens in our year.
  • Consider these questions that help us determine how things went last year. (PS I’m not endorsing the site of this link, but I thought the questions were great!).
  • Pray through the areas where we struggled and ask the Lord for insight. What were our heart issues? Why did we grapple in that area? Where did we see growth in our relationship with God? With others? Ask God for direction as we work through these questions and other things God shows us.
  • For goal-setters, ask the Lord to show us the goals He wants us to work toward and craft a plan.

We all want to thrive in this new year, don’t we? If we’re going to flourish, we must accept that we will face unexpected events. Hopefully, nothing truly terrible will happen. But, even if our worst fears become a reality, we get to choose how we will respond. 

8 How To’s to Prepare our Hearts for the New Year—If we're going to flourish, we must accept that we will face unexpected events #tellhisstory #newyear #perspective Click To Tweet

Nurturing our relationship with God

If we are intentional in our daily choices by nurturing our relationships with God and others, if those genuinely terrible times happen, we will weather them better. When we meditate on and live in the truths God teaches us in the calm times, we’ll be able to stand on them in the difficult times. Our God is always faithful, unchanging, and ever-present.

8 How To’s to Prepare our Hearts for the New Year—8 How To's to Prepare our Hearts for the New Year—When we meditate on and live in the truths God teaches us in the calm times, we'll be able to stand on them in the difficult times… Click To Tweet
A meme that says, "I cried tot he Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy. hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around." ~Psalm 3:4-6 NKJV on a backdrop of a picture of snowy mesas with sunset colors behind them

In this psalm, David reveals his peace. This man who worshiped God in the field with the sheep . . .

This man who killed a lion and a bear because he was the shepherd of his sheep and this was his responsibility, and he didn’t make a big deal about it . . .

This is the same man who cried out to the Lord in his trouble. He knew God heard his cries.

David, in the midst of trouble, laid down and slept. He slept! And he awoke knowing that the Lord sustained him and would continue to sustain him. 

Because of the relationship David fostered in the fields and the quiet times, He knew God would be with him in these times when his enemies came against him. 

David knew peace because He knew the One who protected and provided for him.

Mesas in varying shades of red and brown with clouds and blue sky behind them

Truths to remember

As we head into the rest of this year, let’s prepare our hearts by remembering these truths: 

God loves us perfectly, passionately, and completely

He will walk with us through each day in the ups and the downs

As we draw near to God, He will draw near to us

Even when we are weak, our Father is always strong

An arched mesa with sunlight reflecting on parts of it, along with snow on some of the tops of nearby rocks and a darker sky . . . God can always prepare our hearts if we will seek Him

Let’s do the work to prepare our hearts and minds for this year. Though we don’t know all we will face, we know the One who does. Let’s lean into our Father, trusting Him in every moment.

What about you? What helps you prepare for a new year? How do you find peace in unexpected times?

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