By Kelina Alves, First Impressions and Communications at Visalia First

Yikes! How did we already come up on 2019? The cliché holds true: The older I get, the quicker time seems to pass. Am I right? The holidays came and went in a blur and, just like that, the new year has arrived.

So here we go again. Another year, another chance to start those infamous New Year’s resolutions and somehow hope that we learn from both the good and bad of the past year.

Are you a New Year’s resolution person? Do you toy with the idea that maybe you want to be more organized, lose weight, work out more, get to work 30 minutes earlier or maybe even spend more quality time with your family? These are all incredibly positive and wonderful elements (well … maybe not the early-to-work aspect). It’s always a positive to not only want to better yourself, but to also push your limits to reach new goals and go places you’ve never been before.

But what about bettering yourself on a deeper level? How often do we go another year with eyes half-open, living our lives burdened by unspoken or unnoticed weights? Things like unforgiveness, shame, hurt and brokenness. Maybe you don’t even realize that you’ve been living with those behaviors and feelings your entire life. You may think that the baggage you carry will always be there and that there’s no point in trying to deal with the deep stuff. Some people avoid making resolutions altogether because the thought of potential failure and shame discourages them.

Unfortunately, it’s a never-ending cycle that brings people to stay frozen in time. Another year passes just like the last, with no real change to speak of. That’s discouraging.

Imagine the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life, something that happened to you or something you may have done. But now, imagine a perfect peace over the whole situation, a peace that allows you to think about it, talk about it and one day even SPEAK about it. Imagine knowing that you can put it behind you and take the appropriate steps to move forward.

The Bible speaks about this peace that God brings to people. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 34:18. It says that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

You can hold tight to this truth that God never leaves our side, no matter what was done to us or what we may have done. We are encouraged to hold tight to His truths and know that He will be near us. He will hold our hand and walk us through every hurt and tear.   

Deep hurts are never easy to heal, and pain doesn’t fade away overnight. It takes a lot of work and a lot of trust to work through difficulties. It’s important to find and surround yourself with your people. Not just any people; you have to find the RIGHT people. Let’s be real: Sometimes moving forward can be as easy as letting go of people who don’t belong in your life. Even this right decision can lead to a feeling of loneliness while you figure out what is next. But hold tight to that truth that God never leaves your side, and I promise you that He will place the right people in your life at the right time. We think that the world is so big, but you may just find out that someone close to you has had a similar experience that can help you walk through some of the same pain and difficulties that you are facing.

I want to encourage you to make a choice to move forward this year, to experience love and forgiveness so great that you can breathe again. Because through Jesus, those chains that have bound you have been lifted. We have to let the time pass, but we can’t be paralyzed by it. Time will pass us by regardless, so why not let it pass by while you choose hope, love, faith and peace.

Make casting your cares on God a part of your New Year’s resolutions this year. And speaking of great people to have in your life, we have a church full of them here! We hope you join us at Visalia First on Saturdays at 5 p.m. or Sundays at 9 and 11:30 a.m.

God bless!