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

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 solution, I’ve found, is to hold both of these things to be true simultaneously.

I do have the ability 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 midst of the worst broken places in life, I can still choose to work toward healing and new growth as best as I am able, including asking for whatever help I may need to get there.

AND at the very same time, my current reality is not a clean slate that erases the difficulties I am facing, and I can offer myself grace and compassion to stay with the very real and lingering pain and challenges I need to work through as part of that reality.

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

If you are one of the many whose 2020 left you dealing with brokenness and pain as the coming year begins, I wish you the courage and the strength to deal with whatever difficulties 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 possibilities you need.

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 2021 bring you healing and hope.


Image by Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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