Sophia A. Nelson, Hope Magazine Special Contributor
“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential
2013 was not my best year. And for many of you, as quiet as it’s kept, it was not yours either. Nevertheless, the New Year is upon us and as we do at the end of each year we look forward to what is ahead of us and we hope that what is behind us has taught us how to be better, how to live better, and how to love better.
As you begin to think about your next year, I wanted to share some steps that I began putting into practice around Thanksgiving to help me leave behind those things which have been weighing me down for far too long. You know we often use the metaphor of luggage or baggage to describe how we as women have not yet dealt with our “issues”. I’d like to use that metaphor throughout this column to help you understand how critical it is as you head into your 2014, that you need to unpack your bags and you need to throw away some things that no longer fit you.
Life is a storm. And like a storm, life can throw things at us suddenly and often unexpectedly, that force us to deal with the aftermath of devastation and loss. Part of living, is understanding and accepting that you will have difficult moments, that you will have challenges, that you will suffer loss, and that you will have to learn to start over again and again. What matters however, is not that storms will come, but what we do in the midst of them. As you head into 2014 and leave 2013 behind you it’s very important that you make an assessment of the past year. You must make a decision that you will not carry anyone or anything into your future that does not benefit you, bless you, build you, or propel you into your greatness. And you do have greatness laying inside of you sleeping but never dead waiting to rise, to meet you, and to introduce itself to the world.
Here’s my point: you only get one life. There are three things in life that we can never get back; our words, our time, and our opportunities. So why spend what precious time we have here on earth year after year dwelling on what we’ve lost or who walked away and hurt us. 2013 is now behind you. You can’t change it, you can’t fix it, and you can’t relive it. What you can do is start over again. God in his infinite wisdom, blessed us each January 1st with a new beginning. With a chance to start again. With a whole new year in front of us full of promise, full of opportunity and possibilities if only we would stop looking back at the doors that have closed behind us and instead look at the doors open before us. Stop looking back. Let. It. Go. And live your life forward.
Here are five steps that I’m incorporating into my life as I leave 2013 behind me and press on to the amazing 2014 that awaits me:
- I am undertaking what I like to call a soul detox. A soul detox (insert link to my vlog on this here) is a process by which we cleanse our souls. To detox your soul is the same thing is detoxing your body which many of us do every New Year with a Daniel fast, or some other kind of natural cleanse. Our souls, are where we live and when our souls get calcified and hardened we cannot live our best lives.
- You need to forgive. Release. And heal. Forgiveness is a journey it is not something that you can just do in an instant as many people mistakenly believe. It’s one thing to say the words I forgive you, but it is another to actually forgive someone, release them and heal from the injury that you suffer. You must have the courage to forgive. Forgiveness releases you from the prison of anger, depression, and hurt. Forgiveness does not mean that you must allow that person back into your life, or that you have to have any fellowship with them. Forgiveness is for you and for me to help us start looking forward and stop looking backward.
- You need to check your row. The Bible says that the power of life and death are in our words. And it’s the truth. But I’d like to add a little tweak to that, who speaks to you, who counsels you, and who has your ear matters. Your row, meaning the people who were closest to you in your life, must be people who speak life and not death to your destiny.
- Turn your wounds into wisdom. I wish I could take credit for that saying but I can’t, that nugget comes from Oprah Winfrey. When we get hurt or wounded, our first inclination is to turn inward and isolate ourselves from the world. Don’t do it. There are great lessons in our pain. Don’t let what they did or life did destroy you. Find the courage to learn the lessons that life is teaching you and turn those things that have hurt you into things that can help and bless you in your journey going forward.
- Love yourself. Everything that you ever do of value in this life begins with self value. We teach people how to treat us. If they see that we don’t love ourselves, that we are not kind to ourselves, and that we don’t take care of ourselves they will follow our example. Learn to make you a priority. Learn to make your self-care, rest, healthy living, and healthy relationships a priority in your life. When you learn to love you first, you will have so much more to offer the people around you because you will be full, you will be rested, and you will be healthy.
I promise you that if you put these five steps into practice in your life today before the New Year begins and really work at them all throughout the coming year, you will see a change in your life, a major transformation in your life. There is a great saying: it’s not my aptitude, but my attitude, that will determine my altitude. The past is over. It’s time for you to move into your next, now.