I spent a few hours the other day reflecting on the past year. Sitting in Starbucks, I read through my journal from 2011, reflecting on all that God did. Then I took the time to fill out the last few pages in my journal, summarizing everything from 2011. I wrote about the tears I cried, the pains and memories I faced, the moves and decisions I made.
It was time consuming, yes. But so worth it. Because even just a few days before, when I thought about 2011, I only saw the hard, dark things. I wasn't thinking about all the growth and the good that did happen. One day, someone even remarked to me about what a transformative year this has been for me. I nodded my head, and said sure. But inside, I didn't agree. I didn't see the transformation God worked in my life. I only saw the nights I cried myself to sleep. I didn't see the mornings I woke up feeling God's mercy closer to me than ever before. I saw the hard decisions I had to make, but I didn't see the fruit they had reaped in my life.
So a few days later, after some prompting from a friend, I decided to look back. I read nearly all of my journal entries. I looked at where I was a year ago, and where I am today.
As I read and wrote, I began to remember the numerous breakthrough conversations I had. I remembered the things I said "no" to, and the effect that pruning had in my life. I remembered the fears, and the victories that were waiting on the other side of them. I remembered the new friends I made, and the friendships that deepened.
As I stepped back and looked at the year in its entirety, my vision became clearer. I could see the year for what it was. I could see the transforming work of God. I could see His hand in everything. And so I went from calling this year "hard" to calling it "hard, but good." And I was filled with new hope for this new year.
And so, before we launch headlong into 2012, I invite you to reflect on 2011. Take the time, even if it's just 20 minutes, to write it down. Like it says in Habbakuk 2, "Write it down and make it plain." I pray that as you do so, you would see the goodness of God in 2011, and that you would be filled with hope and expectation for 2012.