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As we step into the new year, you may be needing to start afresh after some significant disappointments in 2015. In this encore episode of More Than This – one of the year’s more popular videos and podcasts – I explain how you might plan a ‘resurrection year’ of your own.
‘I have a question,’ the lady at the back of the auditorium said into the microphone. I had just been talking on the theme of my book Resurrection Year and was now taking Q&A from the audience.
‘How can I have my own Resurrection Year?’ she said. ‘I mean, what do I do?’
In this video, podcast and article I’ll give you four ideas to try.
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Not a Formula
There are no 4-Step formulas in Resurrection Year. It is a memoir, not a self-help book, and I’ve lost count of how many people have thanked us for that. Most people who’ve experienced a broken dream—whether it be unwanted singleness, the loss of a loved one, a career that’s gone nowhere or (like us) the inability to have a child—have already read the 7 Steps to a Better Life -type books and been disappointed. Life is rarely so neat. What Resurrection Year seems to have offered is a story of how one couple found hope.
And sometimes hope is all you need.
But still the question has come from people like the lady at that Q&A session:
What can I do to have a year of new life after the death of my dream?
Four Things You Can Do
If you’ve read Resurrection Year you’ll know that part of our starting again involved moving countries. You don’t need to do that. As I reflect back on our own Resurrection Year, I see it had four main elements that can be experienced in any number of ways:
1. Get Some Rest
If you’ve experienced a broken dream you may well feel exhausted, having spent considerable energy trying to attain what you desperately wanted. If you’re anything like us, you need some deep, restorative rest. As you plan for the year ahead, think about including:
• Weekends without housework
• Sleep ins and leisurely breakfasts
• Gentle walks in the country or by the seaside
• Perhaps a reduced workload at the office
• Time alone (if you’re an introvert) or with friends (if you’re extrovert)
For Merryn, this relaxation came particularly through reading novels. For me, it came through beauty—walking in beautiful places and visiting art and photographic galleries. Whatever it is for you, have a season of doing more of what truly relaxes you.
2. Plan Some Recreation
People with broken dreams couldn’t create what they wanted and so they need to create something else. This year you could think about:
• Taking up a new hobby, like drawing, painting, gardening, photography
• Learning a musical instrument
• Joining a sporting club or a gym
• Starting a new project, like a walking group, or writing a book
Remember, recreation literally means ‘re-creation’. What helps you to re-create joy and energy? For me, this meant getting back into photography—a hobby I’d neglected amongst the stresses of the previous few years.
3. Find Renewal
There is a spiritual component to a broken dream. It can rock your sense of perspective and raise questions about the meaning of your life. You can wonder why this has happened to you. As committed believers, Merryn and I wrestled with why a ‘good’ God didn’t answer our prayers for a child. After some rest and recreation, you may be ready to start addressing some of these questions:
• By finding a spiritual mentor or counsellor
• By expanding your perspective through good books, courses and seminars
• By journaling your feelings, attending a church service, or experimenting with a silent retreat or a pilgrimage
While in Switzerland, Merryn and I spent some time at L’Abri, a retreat centre, working through some of our own big questions. There are profound lessons to be learnt from suffering. Don’t miss them.
4. Expect Some Reinvention
When a dream dies a little part of you does too, as you can’t become the person you’ve wanted to become. A certain degree of reinvention is needed. Try asking yourself:
• Who am I deep down? (Think about your key relationships, especially to God)
• What new role or identity could I explore?
• What other dreams could I pursue?
• Can lessons from my own suffering be recycled to help others?
Has the new life Merryn and I started filled the void of not having a child? Of course not. Do we still have days when we wish things were different? Of course we do. But we have been able to start again and experience some things we never would have dreamed of.
We have seen our broken dream turned into a new beginning.
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