Birthdays, Anniversaries, New Year’s Day.. all transitions and opportunities for reflection. These milestones represent growth, changes, and something new. Unfortunately, it may also be a reminder of loss and a a time wrought with regret or sadness. Ultimately, milestones force us to remember our hopes and dreams and disappointments and pain.
I went on a trip with my mother this summer, and there was one particular night we were in Paris where I had wanted to walk along the Seine and buy some street art. Our hotel was a good 45 minute walk from the water and so we decided that it would be safer to stick close to our hotel and to get to bed early for the next day’s adventures. This change of plan put me in complete turmoil. I was upset that we were not experiencing what I thought we should. On top of that, I felt an overwhelming amount of shame because I felt difficult to please, and ungrateful. I mean for goodness sakes, we were in PARIS and I just wanted to be happy and thankful for the opportunity despite what we were doing. When I shared these inner wrestlings with my mom, she graciously gave me permission to feel disappointment. She pointed out, “Being disappointed does not mean that you are ungrateful.”
When we reach a point of transition we may discover that our expectations vary greatly from reality. This may be personality-specific for me, but I don’t think that in general people hope/dream for things to be a certain way and find ourselves disappointed when it turns out differently. And we need to have permission to grieve all that should’ve/could’ve been. How the current season does not compare to what we hoped it would be.
If you find yourself at a milestone, or a season of transition, consider journaling through these questions and leaving some space to grieve.
What do I wish was different in my life?
What am I disappointed about?
What did I picture that this season would look like?
How do I feel about this difference between my expectations and the reality of my life?
What wounds do I have that need healing from God?
What feelings do I need to express to my loving Heavenly Father?
As you process feelings of sadness, disappointment, and grief, consider also being vulnerable enough to dream and hope for the future. This is also a good time to pray about a “theme” for the future. For example, if you decided that you would like to have “Joy” as a theme, you may create goals around focusing on joy that comes from the Lord like making gratefulness lists and spending time in God’s creation.
What do I want to cultivate (disciplines, character traits, habits) in this next season?
What am I thankful for?
What am I hoping for?
How can I pursue some of my dreams?
What are some secret desires and hope that need to be expressed to my loving Heavenly Father?