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2017. Live Loved.

It's January 1st of the year 2017. How? Seriously, how did we get here so quickly?

Just the other day, we were collectively reminiscing about 2015 and in shock about 2016 approaching as an unrelenting visitor.

It almost seems as if this time of year is the one time people are honest and open about their shortcomings and need for change. During the year, those shortcomings are noticed but of course too much of a burden to change then and there. The New Year brings a blank page. Brings a reason for change. A beginning- literally paired with figuratively.

So what's the plan for the 2017?

Well, God only knows. However, I intend to enter with a blindingly honest plan. I can't let you guys in on everything (I have to keep the suspense) but I'll share the bits and pieces I think we could all keep in mind this year.

In 2017 and moving forward, let's:

- Get comfortable with the big picture and step closer to God. We tend to shrink back when things look too grand or when God is mentioned. I don't. God is the only reason I can live a life that I'm pleased with. One saturated in kindness and love. God has handpicked each and every one of us. It is up to us to fully understand what that means and live a fulfilling life that only God can deliver. Or, we can continue doing things our way and get the same results we have been getting in the past. The results we claim we want to change.

- Reject rejection. Rejection steals the best of who you are by reinforcing the worst of what has been said to you. Rejection isn't just an emotion we feel. It's a message that's sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others and God. We connect an event from today to something harsh someone once said. That person's line becomes a label. The label becomes a lie. And the lie becomes a liability in how we think about ourselves and interact in every future relationship. And worst of all, we catch ourselves wondering if God secretly agrees with those who hurt us. It's all a confusing and messy lie. You will have great days and horrible days. However, just like how finding a $20 on the floor today has nothing to do with the guy who didn't hold the door for you yesterday as they saw you juggling groceries, so is the same about a day someone may say something about you or you hear something said about you, and tomorrow when you don't. It is just an unfortunate part of the fabric of life that has nothing to do with your worth or who God has created you to be. God always calls us to be our best selves, let's take on the challenge.

- Ask ourselves these 3 questions each and every day (or when you remember, because let's be honest...), "Is God good?”, "Is God good to me?", and "Do I trust God to be God?" If God is good and God is good to us, then we must fill in the gaps of all the unknowns of our lives with a resounding statement of trust, God is good at being God. We don't have to figure out our present circumstances. We don't have to fill the silence left behind in another person's absence. We don't have to know all the whys and what-ifs. All we have to do is trust. So in quiet humility and without a personal agenda, let's make the decision to let God sort it out.

- Understand that when two friends have an argument, remember that the enemy is never the other person. Nor is it you.

I always thought that “being the bigger person” or “doing the right thing” meant trying to be friends again with the person you lost connection with. Incorrect. Granted, there may be a valid reason for the falling out however, the enemy is not and will never be you or your friend. Ephesians 6:12 says “ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” What does this mean? It means to point our crosshairs at the real enemy, the devil. Start firing off positive statements about your former friend. Truth proclaimed and lived out is a fiercely accurate weapon against evil. Now, keep in mind. None of this may untangle the issue in the broken relationship. Nor is it easy. But it is so good for your soul to get to this place. Will you both connect and be the best of friends after doing this? Maybe or maybe not. It’s not your job to determine this. Your job is to rise above the circumstances. How? By holding on to the greater good in the grand scheme of things: honoring God. Not because you will reconnect. Not because you’re right. Not because they are right. But because you want to stay in step with honoring God.

- LIVE LOVED. I read this phrase in a book once and will never forget it. It is not only an instruction, but a proclamation. To really think about "living loved" can be transformative. When someone feels loved, there is radiance around them. A compassion. An understanding of the person who loves them. An understanding of who they are to that person. A confidence. A warmness. A beauty. A relief. To live this way can transform any interaction, setting, mood, mindset, and so much more. Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won't find yourself begging others for scraps of love. How you ask? Well, as you've probably noticed, each bullet I've listed contains God. No soul can soar to the place of living loved when it's a performance-based endeavor. Living loved is sourced in your quiet daily surrender to the One who made you. Since our fast-paced chase gets us into life's messy situations, it will take slow moments to get us out. For 2017, let's connect with the One who knows how to breathe life and love back into depleted and dead places.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you"- John 15:7

Happy New Year from me to you. Have an incredible year.

Live loved,

Alicia Patten

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