When the new year's clean slate doesn't feel so blank

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

a small chalkboard with erase marks on it
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The image of the new year as a clean slate is a popular one this time of year. It's easy to see why.

There's a lot of hope and encouragement in the idea that we have the chance to start again fresh and make new choices that have the potential to change our lives. We don't have to be tied to what we chose in the past.

Of course, that's equally as true every morning (and every moment) of every day, but the new year makes it seem especially so. I get it.

However, when I'm the middle of one of life's personal storms and everything feels broken and wounded, that clean slate doesn't always feel so clean.

There's no eraser big enough to wipe away the grief, anger, fear, and pain I'm experiencing to make the year (or the day or the moment) seem fresh and new.

I still have to deal with the very real emotional and physical consequences of my reality and my wounded places. None of those were wiped away with the changing of the last digit of the year on the calendar.

While I may feel elated to shut the door on a year that brought so much pain, all the talk of a clean slate for the new year can feel discouraging when the "slate" of my life feels like it's still covered with the detritus of last year's mess.

The challenge, I've found, is to hold both of these things to be true at the same time.

I do have a clean slate to make new choices in this new year (or new morning or new moment), and there is hope and encouragement in that. Even in the most of the worst broken places in life, I can still choose to work toward healing and new growth as best as I am able. And I can choose to ask for help in getting there.

AND at the very same time, my current reality is not a clean slate, and I can offer myself grace and compassion to stay with the pain and challenges I need to work through in the face of that current reality.

Healing is found in that space of staying the course with the current reality that needs to be dealt with AND making the necessary choices moment by moment to do what is necessary to make that healing possible.

If you are one of the many whose 2017 left you dealing with brokenness and pain as this year begins, I wish you the courage and the strength to deal with the reality you are facing with an abundance of self-compassion and grace while also making new choices as you need to in order to create the healing and new reality you need.

And most of all, I want you know that you are not alone, what you are feeling is normal, and you are loved even in the midst of the brokenness. May 2018 bring you healing and hope.

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