Finding flowers amongst the thorns.


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Well, people, 2016 is almost over. In a few hours the clock will strike midnight and a new calendar will tick over, taking us from December 2016 to January 2017. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a non event for me. At the risk of being a party pooper, I am not big on the huge NYE celebrations. Call me boring, but I’ll take a relaxed evening at home over partying in town any day. While I don’t spend NYE out and about partying the night away, one thing I do each year is sit and reflect on the year that was. I contemplate and pray about what was, what is and what is to come. This year was no different.

Yesterday as I was having lunch with some friends, we were talking about the year that was and how it’s been an interesting but at times, a hard year. Personally, it wasn’t the worst year of my life (2014 still holds that prize) but it was big and at times challenging. It was at times hard going, at times smooth sailing, at times outright confusing. One thing that is for certain is that it has been a year of change. HUGE change. Let me give you an overview:

– I moved out of home and into an apartment by myself
– I changed jobs
– I left my church and started attending a new one (which I absolutely love by the way)
– I made some new friends
– I walked away from some old friends (some walked away from me)
– I intentionally put myself first on more than one occasion

And that is just the changes that I had control over. My family, friends and work place have all gone through changes as well, which have impacted me as well (much like my changes impacted them, no doubt). 2016 was definitely a year of transition, to say the least. Some of the change was great, like moving out, but some was devastating and difficult. Relationships were strained, or lost altogether. Stress levels increased. All the usual symptoms of change and transition. However while there were times the transition was too much, what it proved is that it was all necessary.

We can’t just stay stuck in the same routine, although that is what I did for quite some time. After having a couple of friends of mine have some very direct conversations with me about some of the changes I needed to make in my life, I realised that while it was going to be difficult, I had to do it. And so I did and I have never been happier. I have never been more content with my life and where I am at with it. Sure, there are areas in my life that I am still struggling with and there are dreams that are yet to come to pass, but over all, I am happy. And I wouldn’t have been had it not been for the difficult transitions that happened.

I see so many people online talking about how bad 2016 was and how they can’t wait for 2017 for a fresh start but surely there was some good in there? I know the year has been rough for a lot of people but surely there is something you can look back on and smile about. The thing is, there will always be times when life is going to suck, that’s just the way life is. But unless we look for the positives in it, unless we intentionally shoes to focus on the good in life, it will always feel like hard work. I remember walking along a dirty road by the Mekong River in Cambodia recently. The road was pretty dirty and had cow manure everywhere so I made sure to look at the ground while I walked so I didn’t step into anything. As I was walking I noticed some pretty purple flowers and called out to the teacher walking near me to look at the flowers and she laughed at me and said something along the lines of, ‘you look for the flowers, don’t you?’. She was right, I do look for the flowers. And I am not just talking literal flowers, I am talking about looking for beauty in everything.

If we look hard enough we can always find something beautiful. It may be hidden, it may be a little fractured, but we will find something beautiful. And here’s the thing, if we don’t find it, we can create it! There are people who are living in war zones and poverty and corruption, yet we are complaining about how hard life is. Let me be clear; I am not minimising your suffering or difficulties or heartache, I’m really not. I get it. I get life can be hard. But what I am saying is that we can find the good in life and we look for it. We can find joy. We can create a beautiful environment if we try.

So as the clock ticks over and the 2017 comes around, let’s be people who look for the flowers. Look for the beauty, even in the midst of the chaos. Even if it means trying to find flowers in the manure let’s be people who are always looking for the positive in everything because there is enough negativity in this world to last us five lifetimes over and then some. Be happy. Make 2017 your best year yet not because you got everything you wanted but because you chose joy, because you chose to see the good in life instead of the bad. Happy New Year, people. I pray 2017 is your most amazing and joy filled year yet.



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