There was a time when my Father was young that he was stumped by a problem. I don’t know if he was fixing a car or building a piece of furniture, but whatever it was, he got stuck. My grandfather was standing beside him when Dad remarked, “I’ve done everything I know to do and I can’t figure this out.”
My grandfather replied, “You haven’t done everything.”
My Dad looked at him in surprise and said, “What else is there?”
“You haven’t asked me for help.”
It was a defining moment for my Dad, one of those ‘Aha’ moments you never forget. It sounds so simple, yet some adults don’t even know how to do this. Ask for help.
When I was a teenager, I was also trying to solve some problem and my Dad stood quietly by, watching me. When I got stuck, he passed on the same words of wisdom my grandfather passed onto him. Ask for help.
We each have experiences that define us. Maybe we’re trying to solve a problem or cope with a horrible diagnosis. Maybe our world turned upside down when we were given news we never wanted. Maybe we lost a loved one or a relationship. But life isn’t necessarily about what happens to you. It’s more about how you respond to it.
So as we get ready to ring in a New Year, we’d be foolish not to ask ourselves ~ How did 2021 change us? We know that if we don’t learn from the past, we’re bound to repeat its mistakes. So before we don our party hats and toast with friends, ask yourself these questions:
Are you closer to your family or further apart?
Do you have a more satisfying job or are you still waiting to start your own business?
Have you adopted a healthier lifestyle or are you still living like you’re 20?
Are you more open to new things or do you still hold onto what feels comfortable?
Are you still learning the lessons of last year or have you passed the test and graduated?
Is your heart more open or more closed off?
Did you make new friends or did you deepen the friendships you already have?
Did you grow spiritually or does God still tend to be an afterthought?
Did your heart break this year or did it mend?
How many people did you say, ‘I love you’ to?
What will you be taking into the New Year that you didn’t have before?
Are you stronger?
Are you wiser?
Are you kinder?
If you don’t like your answers to any of those questions, then the glorious truth is that you can change that!
I’m not talking about new year’s resolutions. Those may be great to have, but what you need is a plan. Instead of saying, ‘This year, I’m going to be more grateful’, write down specifics. For example, as a caregiver, I have hundreds of people to thank. So here’s my gameplan:
- Make an exhaustive list of people who have helped me take care of my parents. Include everyone ~ family members, neighbors, friends, church family, police officers, firemen, EMT’s, nurses, Grace Arbor family, Peachtree Christian Health family, Fountainview family, chaplains, hospice workers, nurses, doctors, etc.
- Set a reasonable pace for thanking them so I don’t get overwhelmed. (This is more of a marathon, not a sprint.) Send a handwritten thank you note to one or two people a week.
- Bake a cake for the local firemen and/or brownies for the police department.
- Include a simple gift card ~ Starbucks, movie theater, Target, etc.
Next December, I’ll be able to point to my list and see how and to whom I expressed my gratitude as a caregiver.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just ‘one more thing to do’. This is a gratitude gameplan, a tangible way to let people know just how much I appreciate what they’ve done for my family. When I write a thank you note, I’m not crossing something off my ‘to do’ list. I am becoming the person I want to be.
If you want to make new friends, put yourself in situations where you can meet new people. If you want a heart that’s open, find a well recommended counselor who can help you address what prompted you to close your heart off. If you want to start your own business, surround yourself with positive people, read books by successful entrepreneurs, write a business plan and get wise counsel from older and wiser people you trust. If you want to grow spiritually, read the Bible every day and find a solid, loving church to attend.
The truth is, none of us knows what’s going to happen in the New Year. But every single one of us has the power to become the person we want to be. So before you put on your party hat, take a few minutes to make a realistic gameplan for 2022.
And do for yourself what my grandfather did for my Father, and my Father did for me ~ let this be your defining moment.