To the Parent Who Was Weary Before the New Year Started

tired guy coffee

We asked a handful of Rooted writers how they will rest in the gospel in the new year. We know you will enjoy their answers!

Dawson Cooper, mother of three

We like to think the New Year brings the opportunity to shed the cumbersome baggage of 2022 and move into 2023 with a fresh start and a small carry-on bag. However, while each year may bring new seasons and new opportunities, it also more often than not brings the previous years’ challenges and old struggles that aren’t shrugged off with the magic of a resolution.

The same promise God gave to Joshua as he embarked on a new season is true for us as we embark on a new year with some of the same heavy bags. God said, “I will not leave you or forsake you” and later “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5, 9) Just because God is with you doesn’t mean it is going to be easy. But he is with you and that makes all the difference. The same God who was with you last year will be with you in the new year. With that comfort and peace, we can walk into 2023 in his strength and his courage.

Katie Polski, mom of three

I had January 2 pegged on the calendar as the “the day we get back at it.” While work happened during the Christmas season, routines were different, vacation days were plentiful, and the school schedule was thrown out the window and replaced with teens who happily slept long hours. So, January 2 felt “blah,” and I wasn’t ready for the normalcy. The joyous holiday season left me highly unmotivated to get back into the humdrums, and I just figured I was exhausted after all the holiday excitement. The problem, however, really isn’t my lack of energy following a busy holiday; the problem is my perspective on what it means to find meaning in the mundane.

Life is full of the ordinary, and if God does not rule fully in my ordinary, then he doesn’t rule fully in my life. And because God’s fingerprints are all over the days of daily homework, carpooling kids, and piles of laundry, there is reason to enter back into the daily grind with eagerness and anticipation because God is at work in all of it. Each day, no matter how ordinary it may seem, is part of God’s beautiful, redemptive story for our life, and each one leads toward the day when we will one day see Jesus. May the Lord cultivate in our hearts a sense of zeal as we purposefully look for the ways God will use us, provide strength for us, and reveal Himself to us even in the regular, ordinary days.

Anne Sanford, mother of two boys

I’m tired. Parenting from October-December is not for the faint of heart. The class parties. The school programs. The food. The gifts.  None of these on their own are bad, but with them come ALL OF THE EXPECTATIONS! And they wear me out. So, as I sit here preparing to leave for work for the first time in over 2 weeks, I’m already tired.

Yet in my exhaustion, I find rest in a Savior who doesn’t blow up my inbox with self-help concepts and ideas for a “new year new me.” I find rest in a Savior that simply says “Come!”

Come to me and I will give you rest.

Cast your cares on me because I care for you.

In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome.

Resting in the truth of his promises is what will get me out the door today and sustain me through the physical, mental, and emotional holiday hangover. I pray the same will be true for you!

Becky Paynter, mom of one boy and one girl

“What keeps you going?” A friend asked this in a group of women a few days prior to Christmas, knowing that we’d all experienced some darkness in our lives and yearned to see more of the “light of the world.” In these first days of the new year, I imagine the holidays have left many of us all the more weary – yet my response to her question remains the same.

Gratitude provides fuel for hope and room for rest.

Grounding oneself in gratitude is a daily, and sometimes hourly choice – and it does not require that one be disingenuous about the hardships of life. It does sometimes mean praising God when you don’t feel like it, and uttering thanks for a person or situation when your heart might have other intentions. However, the habit of gratitude is the most powerful shifter of perspective, and the hard and patient practice of giving thanks slowly but surely develops a more joyful spirit.

Human beings ultimately end up walking a path of joy or a path of bitterness, and the difference maker is gratitude. We expend energy either way, but a life lacking thanks is far more costly and robs us of joy. The choice to be grateful is the anecdote to becoming a bitter and bone-tired person, allowing space to continuously cultivate hope.

Tracey Rector, mother of three, grandmother of three

What are your expectations?

The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is one of the best times of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful. As parents, we may feel intense pressure to celebrate the birth of Jesus with our kids in a way that is a fitting tribute to the magnificence of the gift. We are expected to decorate, cook, purchase gifts with money we may not have, attend every Christmas party, and travel to visit relatives. We sing in the choir, direct the children’s Nativity play, keep up with the Advent calendar and family readings, and volunteer to be one of Santa’s elves at the women and children’s shelter. And we’re expected to do all these things while focusing on hope, peace, joy, and love.

It’s no surprise that when the new year rolls around, we find ourselves exhausted and wondering how to refocus our energy and rediscover the profound joy and comfort that communion with our Father brings.

One way to do this is to examine our expectations and exchange our nonessential expectations for those that please God. Do we need to lose fifteen pounds? Perhaps, but if we ask ourselves what God wants for us, might he want something different? Could he want us to spend more time reading his Word and less time scrolling through social media? Could he be telling us that instead of getting up earlier to work out we should get up earlier to sit quietly and listen for him? Micah 6:8 tells us that the Lord’s requirements rarely include self-improvement unless they help us “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” When we commit to put God’s expectations for ourselves first, we receive the blessing of a strengthened relationship with our Creator that gives us wisdom to manage the expectations we might have for ourselves.

Ingram Link, mother of four

Happy New Year!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,  Who was and is and is to come! Worthy are you, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will thy existed and were created (Rev. 4:8b, 11).

Rather than succumb to the overwhelming feelings that I have as I consider the start of a new year, I am going to remind myself of the above passage over and over and over. Consider meditating on these truths as you seek to live the life that God has called you to live.

I am a child of the living Almighty God.

He is holy, holy, holy!

He has created me, he has redeemed me, he loves me!

He calls me by name, he hears my voice, and he remembers me!

He alone is worthy of my time, my work, my efforts, and my imaginings.

May I take every thought captive to obey Christ.

He alone is worthy of my worship.

May my life reflect his goodness, mercy, and grace.

May my relationships encourage others in Christ Jesus.

May I trust that all power belongs to God.

Steve Eatmon, father of two

I read an article recently about the use of Ketamine and other psychedelic drugs as a way to combat depression; one customer testified to feeling more confident about their life after an induced hallucination. This is akin to drinking Coke when thirsty or eating pastries when starving. They relieve the temporary discomfort but do nothing to combat the long-term underlying cause. At some point you have to come back and confront the real world.

In the same way, holidays can be a distraction. The feel-good stories of Christmas and the bustling activity can become a welcome distraction to the harshness of life. But a solid understanding of God’s identity through the Scripture helps us to feel confident facing fears and suffering. There are a number of Scriptures that deal with resting in the Lord, such as Matthew 11:28-30 and Isaiah 40:31. Those Scriptures are great, but ultimately a strong knowledge of the Lord and his ways, found in Scripture, is key. Scriptures like Romans 8 and Proverbs 18:10 help with understanding God’s power and his sovereignty in uncertain times as well.