Year of promise

Anyone remember the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? In the book, everything seems to go wrong for Alexander, from the petty to the annoying to the plain not good: he wakes up with chewing gum in his hair, there is no dessert in his lunch bag, he gets a cavity, he gets soap in his eyes during bath time, he fights with his siblings. He laments that he just wants to move to Australia, sure that no one has bad days in the land Down Under.

At the end of the book, his mother reassures him that everyone has bad days, even those who live in Australia.

Sometimes I feel like 2016 was just one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

AlexanderLike all new years, it started out with promise: fresh dreams, reaffirming goals to accomplish in the next 12 months, plans to travel, make lifestyle changes, etc. And for a while, it seemed like everything was going well. But, as they say, LIFE happened.

It seemed like every day seemed to bring new frustrations, things that hampered the accomplishment of goals, old enemies that didn’t want to stay down. Doubts of my future as a mother. As a writer. Loss. It sometimes felt like nothing was going right.

And that’s just on the personal side. Worldwide,  it seemed like 2016  was the beginning of the End Times: every other day the news was full of violence and death, hate and prejudice, cruelty and evil. The US election cycle was particularly vitriolic, and the outcome remains so.

I’m an eternal optimist, and try to see the good in every situation. But by the end of 2016, I was ready to throw in the towel. It didn’t help that my husband got sick over Christmas, I got sick shortly after, and my beloved dog Bazinga suffered some burns in a cooking accident. It felt like 2016 was just kicking me while I was down, and I felt myself crying out to God, “What did I do wrong? Why is all of this bad stuff happening?”

As Anne Shirley says, I was having a “Jonah Day,” only it felt like a Jonah year.

I’m sure Jonah thought he was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day when he was swallowed by the whale. He hung out in a fish’s belly for three whole days. In Jonah’s case, he suffered because he didn’t heed God’s commands. But in the case of Job, he didn’t do anything wrong. He suffered because God knew that no matter what Satan threw at his trusted servant, he would withstand it. And after losing everything and still not cursing Him, God doubly blessed Job for being a good and faithful servant.

Good momentsI’m not like Job. I definitely haven’t lost everything, and my 2016 was certainly not as bad as it could have been. But even if it had, that’s no excuse for me to whine and complain and give up. The Bible promises us that “In all things God works together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I might not be able to see the big picture of what God is doing in my life, and I might not EVER be able to, but I cling to the promise that something good is happening all along.

And you know what? When I think about it, there were some pretty great moments in 2016: wonderful times hanging out with my family, hearing some pretty incredible music from my symphony, some breakthroughs in my writing, brainstorming with a wonderful group of writers and friends, joining the church choir and rediscovering my love of singing. Gaining a niece. Making new friends. Renewing old friendships.  Learning to lean on God in the hard times as well as the good.

So, instead of making a new year’s resolution or choosing my “one word” for the year, I’ve decided to do something even simpler: focus on the good that I CAN see. For every week this year, I’m going to write down at least one thing good that happened in my life that week in my journal. The first week of January, it was praying in the new year together with my husband. Last week, it was the sense of accomplishment on a video I produced for work. This week, I’ve already included the very long phone call I had with one of my best friends on Sunday night.

No matter what 2017 holds, good or bad, I’d rather focus on the good and make it a year of promise.


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Stephanie Ludwig is a former reporter turned public relations professional who loves Jesus and writing about mysteries, music, and murder. She is an avid L.M. Montgomery fan, and collects anything having to do with Anne of Green Gables.

10 thoughts on “Year of promise”

  1. Powerful message here, Stephanie. There will always be trials and tribulations and it’s so easy to get bogged down by sorrow or frustration or impatience. I love your idea of concentrating on counting your blessings instead. I’m going to follow your lead here. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Kav. I got the idea from a Pinterest post about writing your blessings down on small pieces of paper and filling up a jar with them to read at the end of the year. I may do that eventually, but keeping a list in my journal is more my style!

  2. Well said Steph! 2016 kicked our tail too, but there was good mixed in as well. Thanks for helping remind us remember our blessings on the midst of the storms. Wishing you and John a blessed 2017 my friend!!

    1. Thanks, Heather! I hope 2017 has more blessings than storms in them for your family as well. Maybe one of them can be a visit from the Ludwigs? 🙂

  3. Great idea, Stephanie! Everything is relative, isn’t it? 2016 was pretty good for me because of the previous 2 years. I like your idea of being thankful for every good thing.

    Like you, I’m an optimist. Even when things seem bleak, looking to the One Who gave us Jesus and spending time in His Word gives me hope. I always come back to “Beloved I wish above all things that you would prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers,” (3 John 2) and know without question that God wants only good for me and gave me the tools to live an abundant life. I believe 2017 will be a year of great joy and abundance for you! xoxo

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! I hope it’s a good year, too, of you and yours. I like how the verse you shared points out “even as your soul prospers.” God wants to prosper our physical well-being, but he’s more concerned with our souls! Something to remember when I’m having a pity party, and don’t want to turn to prayers for comfort.

  4. Stephanie, I have had a really bad, no-good, hate this stupid year year. It was awful and I cried out to God to ask why. I found comfort in the Psalms where they too cried out in anguish. But God was always there to work things out in the end. I’m sorry you had a year that was a struggle at every turn. I hope Bazinga is healing!! And that you both are over the Christmas illness. I agree with the scripture Cheryl shared. May 2017 open up to more blessings for you and yours.

    1. I’m sorry you had an awful year, too, Dawn! But God is faithful, and brings his followers comfort. Yes, we’re over being sick, and Bazinga is healing (several hundred dollars and vet visits later), although she may bear some scars. I hope your 2017 is blessed!

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