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Goodbye regret, hello change
Amber Albee Swenson
by Amber Albee Swenson
December 19, 2022

Mid-December regret hits hard. January brims with enthusiasm and renewed determination to change. But all too often, December is the reminder that the year didn’t go as expected.

November 24, 2021, was the first glimmer of hope for our family after a rough six months. It was just a glimmer. We still had months of adversity before we’d turn a corner.

On January 10, 2022, I wrote down the way I intended to deal with the struggle.

  1. Trust God: You don’t have to see the whole picture. You just have to remember God is on the throne and God cares about us.
  2. Don’t talk badly about others. If they’ve offended you, God sees. Put the best construction on things. Take words and actions in the kindest possible way.
  3. (This was a financial goal that wasn’t on my radar until 2021.)

I kept that note card on my desk where it was easily visible until last week. As I reread my resolutions, I was awestruck at how paramount those goals had become.

If 2022 has brought you to the struggle of a lifetime, or even if you’re just not where you want to be physically, spiritually, or emotionally, here are some things to consider as you turn the corner and enter a new year.

It tends to be much easier to see what others are doing or have done to us then to confront our own shortcomings. If you want a different result than in the past, it starts with self-examination.

Jesus said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).

King David wrote, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24).

We may be blind to our shortcomings, but God knows. If you are sick of where you are and don’t know what to do, start with David’s prayer. God can show you the things that are oblivious to you. Change happens when we quit excusing and justifying and humbly choose obedience regardless of what others say or do.

Once we acknowledge the problem, we’re in position to choose differently. Those strained relationships don’t get better when we keep losing our tempers and use the ugly tone. The bills keep coming as long as spending is unrestrained and we justify every purchase. It was a long day, but sitting on the couch scrolling doesn’t do anything to make tomorrow different.

Even when we’ve decided in our hearts to go a different route, the process of change is rarely instantaneous. If you’re like me, it still takes plenty of apologies and do-overs before getting it right.

But it is a step in the right direction and a step away from where we’ve been.

We can’t keep the bad away. But we can choose how we respond, and we can accept responsibility for our actions. (This is confession.) Then we’ll be in position to make different decisions and get a different result. (This is repentance—to turn and choose a different path.)