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Originally published Friday, December 27, 2013 at 8:03 PM

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There’s never been a better time to make your life better

As you prepare for the new year, take time to reflect on what went well and what you would do differently if you had the chance.


Special to The Seattle Times

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Faith & Values

We have almost made it through another year. Networks are airing retrospective shows of 2013. It appears we made it through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Hallelujah, the economy is improving and unemployment is inching down. We survived and hopefully learned from the government shutdown and the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Yet, through it all, love still wins. There are now 18 states and the District of Columbia that recognize marriage equality.

God willing and the creek don’t rise, we soon will experience the ups and downs of 2014. Before we rush headlong into a new year, it is important to take a few minutes to assess what went well for us and what changes we would like to see in the coming year. Weight-loss companies and smoking-cessation programs count on us making our annual resolutions to drop a few pounds and to stop smoking.

While those may not be the changes you need to make in your life, there are probably a few improvements you can make to enhance the quality of your life and to be happier and healthier.

Some of us may need to unplug our electronic devices and learn to talk to one another. I like staying in touch and I am thrilled to be plugged in at 30,000 feet up via Wi-Fi when I fly.

I am also aware that many have forgotten how to hold a conversation and write a proper sentence. It is troubling when family would rather text each other than talk when they’re in the house together. Promising to have one real conversation a day would be a good place to start in the coming year.

Most of us could use more exercise next year than we had this year. But if exercise is not your thing, how about exploring ways to just move more?

It is never too late to learn to salsa or do the electric slide. There are tons of wonderful museums to explore, and when weather permits planting, a garden engages our minds, bodies and spirits.

I would be remiss if I did not encourage each of us to deepen our spiritual relationship with God in the new year. It takes a made-up mind to strengthen our spiritual walk.

With all the demands in a day, it is easy to let the spirit stuff go. Prayer, meditation, and sacred reading seem to go by the wayside when we oversleep or find ourselves up against a pressing deadline.

When we are focused on fulfilling God’s plan for our lives, it is easier to say no to those things that distract. It will always be a challenge for some to say no because we do not want to disappoint others. But saying yes to God’s will and way for our lives means saying no to those things that separate us from God.

I have found that others are more than happy to tell me what they think God wants me to do with my life. Funny thing, it usually coincides with what they want me to do.

Clarity and direction come through prayer, not necessarily from well-intentioned friends. When we are clear on God’s purpose for our lives, we can find joy even in times of struggle.

So as 2013 comes to a close, take time to reflect on what went well and what you would do differently if you had the chance. Life is a gift and love is precious.

Let go of the things you cannot change. Forgive those who hurt you so you can get on with living.

We can choose to be happier, healthier and more loving in 2014. So let it be and Happy New Year!

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com



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About The Rev. Patricia Hunter

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and an employee-benefits specialist for American Baptist Churches in the USA.

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