Ending In A Place of Hope

Ending In A Place of Hope

As we’ve been talking about reclaiming the holiday season this month, we’re coming to the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. This week, we’re going to be talking about something we highlight almost every single week: ending in a place of hope. 

The magic of Christmas is gone. The decorations have to be pulled down and there’s bills to pay to cover another Christmas season. We’re on the brink of a brand-new year, but for some of us, that can feel pretty daunting. For many of us, our situation hasn’t changed. And although a New Year’s day comes and symbolizes a fresh beginning and a fresh new year, so many things feel exactly the same. The reality of our situation can make looking at a new year almost exhausting and depressing. For those of us who are not walking into a new year feeling a sense of hope, what can we do to ground ourselves with a foundation of hope as we walk into the new year? 

Holding onto Hope in the New Year

After the passing of her husband, the Christmas season for Solo Parent Marissa felt chaotic. “There’s another year of juggling how all the pieces go together and realizing I just made it through a chaotic Christmas season. How do I envision making it through another year? And yet on the other side, there’s this glimmer of  - Hey, I managed to do this . . . I did this for another year."

Solo Parent Elizabeth is constantly reminded that time is the only resource that doesn’t grow. Each year, she’s very aware of the passing of time—especially when it comes to her son. Each year when she takes down her Christmas ornaments, she’s rethinking the Christmas past, what they did together, how old he is, and even what he looks like right now. “I feel like ever since my son was born, it’s made me very much aware of time passing because kids change so much and you can see it every year. I don’t think I get caught up in the fear of the year ahead, it’s more about the next time I pull out my decorations and wondering what that’s going to be like.”

As single parents around the New Year, it can feel like a never-ending hamster wheel. Especially if your circumstances as a single parent haven’t changed. You might feel like you’re just treading water to try and make it through another year. The idea of not feeling that beginning-of-the-year excitement and drive can be pretty disappointing. So, what can we do to establish hope and build a foundation of hope as we move into the new year?

Establishing Hope For The New Year

  1. Take an inventory

What’s happened in the last year? Taking time to answer that question is so important in establishing hope. As solo parents, we need to take the time to sit down and take an inventory of both the good and bad that happened in the previous year. Ask yourself about the challenging things that happened. Be as real and deep as you want as you journal those things. And then challenge yourself to look ahead positively on the year to come. What are some things you’re looking forward to? What are you building in the new year? What are you preparing for? This practice of taking an inventory allows you to both grieve and remember the last year while making space for the year to come. 

  1. See the new year as an opportunity

Whether you’re someone who loves setting New Year’s resolutions or not, seeing the new year as a brand-new opportunity is a huge part of establishing hope for the year to come. 
Solo Parent Elizabeth is someone who loves setting resolutions. “I’m one of those people who buys into the New Year’s resolution thing. And just as quickly as I’ve bought in, I’ve let it go in terms of not following through. But it’s always so exciting to think about the changes I can make to better my situation. Maybe not these massive goals but just setting small incremental changes . . . Just these little things we can do to set ourselves up with new opportunities to do things differently in the new year.”

Seeing the new year as an opportunity may not come as easily for everyone. But it’s important to know that change doesn’t happen by chance. It takes deliberate effort to make a change in your circumstances. Robert reminds us that small incremental changes in the right direction will help get you where you want to go. 

  1. Decide to live from a place of gratitude (not lack)

Marissa reminds us that when it comes to life, there will always be someone else who has more than you. But if that’s what you’re focusing on, you’ll never truly arrive. “If what you focus on is being where you are and having gratitude for what you DO have, that changes things. It changes the way you see everything and the way your kids see everything as well.” 

One of the things she does with her kids is to set up a visual reminder of the faithfulness of God. “When we can remember God’s faithfulness and the good things that are there, that sets us up to not have doom and gloom. As my children are learning to trust in God more and more, one of the things I’ve encouraged them to do is set up an Ebenezer. Whether its journaling, drawing pictures, getting a rock and writing something on it. When you see reason to praise God, put a pin in that moment. Sometimes we dwell so much more on the negative. So, we have to be intentional about seeing the positive, setting ourselves up to succeed by putting a reminder in place of those times where God was faithful.”

  1. Choose hope

Choosing hope may not come naturally to you. Choosing hope can be one of the most powerful actions we can take and one of the hardest things we can do. The worries of this life and the anxieties of solo parent life can definitely be overwhelming. But choosing hope is a deliberate choice to trust God no matter what your circumstances are, knowing that He is faithful. Hope is more than a feeling. It’s a surrender and a discipline of being hopeful and expectant that God will come through. 

“I have an unrelenting faith in God and the hope he offers and brings,” Elizabeth said. “We talked about the idea of surrendered hope this month. I may not get what I want in my human mind. But God is providing for me and I know that. Being able to look back with gratitude on those moments of his faithfulness gives me a hope for the future and what is to come. Even if I don’t know what that is or even if it looks bleak and awful, I have this unrelenting hope that God’s got me and it’s going to be good. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, but we always end in a place of hope here. With intentionality, we can always end in a place of hope in our days, our moments, no matter what that looks like.” 

There are times when you may be at the end of your rope and you cannot see that hope. But God knows. And with Him, there is always hope. If you’re struggling to find that hope, cry out to someone. There are times when hope is a choice and times when it’s so difficult that you don’t know how to make that choice. And it’s ok to get on your knees, cry out to God and say, “I can’t find it.”

No matter what state of solo parenting you are in, there is hope. And you’re not alone. There’s a lot of people in the same position as you and that’s what we’re here for. We’re not only shining a light and saying, “there’s a lot more people walking through this than you think”, we’re also saying we can walk together and we’re going to be better for it.

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