Five simple ways to find joy and peace in 2015 and beyond

Volunteers from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Scottsdale, prepared lunch for guests at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room in Phoenix July 4, 2014. Some 1.2 million meals are served to the hungry each year at five local dining rooms. Serving others is one way to find joy. (Joyce Coronel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Volunteers from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Scottsdale, prepared lunch for guests at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room in Phoenix July 4, 2014. Some 1.2 million meals are served to the hungry each year at five local dining rooms. Serving others is one way to find joy. (Joyce Coronel/CATHOLIC SUN)

[dropcap type=”4″]S[/dropcap]o here we are, just two weeks inside of 2015 and already many of us have broken our New Year’s resolutions. Please don’t lose heart! It takes time to make changes. Every day we have an opportunity to begin again, so if today didn’t go well, take a deep breath and decide right now to start over. With God, all things are possible.

Joyce Coronel is interim managing editor of The Catholic Sun and author of “A Martyr’s Crown.” Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.
Joyce Coronel is interim managing editor of The Catholic Sun and author of “A Martyr’s Crown.” Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.

Think of what Elizabeth said to Mary when she visited: “Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” Do we trust God’s word to us? He tells us over and over that He loves us and will never abandon us. The prophet Habakkuk, who lived some 2,700 years ago, also trusted God, even when all seemed lost. Here are his inspired words:

“For though the fig tree blossoms not, nor fruit be on the vines, though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment, yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength.”

And it’s true: God is our strength, our hope, our refuge and our joy. He will never abandon or disappoint us. Here are five strategies to help each of us draw closer to Him during the coming year.

Action plan

Pray. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, offer Him your life with a simple, heartfelt prayer such as, “Lord, thank you for this new day. I give myself to you completely. Help me to do your will today.” If you haven’t already done so, establish a regular daily prayer time. That daily encounter with the Lord and His mercy and grace is what will sustain us. Time spent with Him is never lost but blesses us more than we realize.

Forgive. As the Nike slogan says, just do it. Decide right now to forgive from the heart every person who has hurt you, even if they have never apologized. We might not feel like doing it, but forgiving frees us. It’s also the way we show God we are thankful He has pardoned us. If you haven’t read Immaculée Ilibagiza’s book, “Left to Tell,” that could serve as an inspiration. After reading what this woman endured and was able to forgive, readers are left with one question: If she can forgive, why shouldn’t I?

Be thankful. It’s a mindset that changes our perspective for the better. A wise person once told me that when something bad happens, we need to stop and list 10 things we’re thankful for. That’s not always easy, but it’s when we’ve been deeply wounded that we often realize just how much our family and friends love us.

I experienced this a few weeks ago when I had to ask my 15-year-old son for forgiveness because I’d been grumpy. We were standing there in line at the department store and he put his arm around me and said, “Mom, it’s OK. You don’t have to pretend you’re happy for me. I know you’re sad. I love you.” If you know what 15-year-old boys are like, then you know that is one miraculous, grace-filled statement. I am thankful to have heard those words spoken to me so sincerely.

Serve. A funny thing happens when we decide to serve others: we forget about ourselves. And forgetting about ourselves is a good thing. It’s also the exact opposite of what our culture preaches. Serving others with no expectation of anything in return brings us joy and healing in a way that nothing else does.

Discover. Try to learn one new thing each day. You’d be surprised at the joy that begins to build as you stretch your mind and grow little by little. I read once that we’ll never be bored in heaven because we’ll be continually discovering more about God and His great love.

So, those are five things I’m going to work on in 2015. What about you? What is God calling you to do during this new year? Why not decide today to trust our Savior who loves us so tremendously? He has a future full of hope for each of us during 2015 and beyond.