The Start of a New Year

Here is what I know about the new year – it won’t turn out the way you hope it does.  It won’t be near as good as you want it to be. It will not be the fulfillment of your fondest dream. It will not be anything like what you think it should be. How do I know that? Well, after 70+ years of life I simply have come to that conclusion. And, it is not negative – it is simply truthful and realistic. And, approaching a new year with this attitude means I recognize that bad things do happen to good people. And, there are many up and downs in any given 12 month period. 

Life is filled with ups and downs. The problem is that what most of us want is ups and ups. That’s not possible. I think it’s pretty obvious that no one gets to escape bad experiences. But, we must remember that God is in control and that He is with us and will see us through no matter what the new year brings our way. And, that as a result of our faith in Him we will be stronger and better off at the end of the year than at the start.

There is an old saying: ‘Some days you’re the pigeon; some days you’re the statue!”

We can do everything in our power to avoid negative experiences and not be the statue, but they (the pigeons) have a way of finding us. I love the quote, “I try to take life one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once.” No matter who you are, where you live, what you do, or what your background is, you will have to deal with bad experiences in 2020.

As television host and author observed, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly just because you’re a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to charge you because you’re a vegetarian.” You have to have realistic expectations when it comes to pain and problems. You can’t avoid them. Everyone has bad experiences. Starting a fresh, new year does not alter that truth.

But, my observation is that there are few people, even few believers, who make bad experiences positive experiences.

Life’s difficulties do not allow us to stay the same. They move us. The question is in which direction will we be moved: forward or backward? When we have bad experiences, do we become better or bitter? Will those experiences limit us or lead us to grow? As Warren Lester remarked, “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well.”

When tough times and bad experiences come, many people don’t respond well. Some seem to have the motto that I once saw on a bumper sticker: “When the going gets tough, it’s time to take a nap.” What a shame. We need to be examining the bad experience, looking for lessons that will help us to grow. Yes, bad experiences can be painful. But don’t waste the experience or the pain. Learn from them. Most successful people will point to the hard times in their lives as key points in their journey of development and growth. If you are dedicated to growth and becoming more mature, then you must be committed to managing your bad experiences well and learning from them. 

So, let your discomfort and disappointment in 2020 be a catalyst for your development. Growth is the best possible outcome for any negative experience. 

So a story to drive home the point:

There was this chicken farmer whose land was flooded nearly every spring. He didn’t want to give up the farm and move, but when the water backed up onto his land and flooded his chicken coops, it was always a struggle to get his chickens to higher ground. Some years he couldn’t move fast enough and hundreds of his chickens drowned.

After the worst spring he’s ever experienced and losing his entire flock, he came into the farmhouse and told his wife. “I’ve had it. I can’t afford another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know what to do.”

His wife replied, “Buy ducks.”

The people who make the most out of bad experiences are the ones who find creative ways to meet them, like the farmer’s wife in the story. They see possibilities within their problems. 

Author Neale Donald Walsh asserted, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I believe that creativity begins at the end of your comfort zone. When you feel the pain of bad experiences, creativity gives you the opportunity to turn that pain into gain. The secret to doing that is to use the energy that comes from either adrenaline or anger and use it to solve problems and learn lessons. 

When you have had a bad experience, instead of letting it discourage you or make you angry, try to find ways to let it prompt your creativity.