Lose the January Blues
By Anna Martin, HOPE For Every Home
Anyone else get the January Blues? The hype of Christmas is over. The buzz of Advent preparations has passed. The road trip visiting relatives around the country has screeched to a halt. And, dare I say it… perhaps we’re a pound (or two) heavier after that cracking Christmas dinner?! Whether we’ve had the most wonderful time of the year or whether last Christmas is one to forget… one thing’s for certain… it’s over!
But what about Jesus? Are we ‘over’ him too?
As we start the new year, Anna explores what it might look like to begin with Jesus by our side and lose the January Blues…
A new year brings new opportunities, new starts, new hopes and dreams. The old has gone, the new is here! (You’ve even got a new blog writer… hello!) The questions is, are you a new year’s resolution maker? If you’re anything like me, I spend way too long trying to come up with the perfect resolution only to give up or forget after just a few weeks in! Failed resolutions alongside the January blues can unfortunately lead to depression.
At the end of 2020, Amy Launder, from ‘The Awareness Centre’ wrote;
“We now have a somewhat defined “most depressing day of the year”, which is said to fall on the third Monday of January, known as Blue Monday. Although this “Blue Monday” was a marketing ploy created by Sky Travel in 2005, the concept makes sense. It is about the time that the excitement and motivation for our resolutions fade, we’ve gone back to work, and the weather is still dark and cold (without the excitement of Christmas). In fact, The Samaritans have stated that 20% of people experience depression at this time of year. This is in comparison to 4.5% of people who experience depression in the UK at any other time, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.”
(If you or anyone you know is struggling, you may be interested in the Wellbeing Journey. The series explores holistic wellness for the body, mind and spirit.)
So how do we lose the January blues? Well, take a deep breath and ‘give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you’ (1 Peter 5:7). And here are three redeemed resolution ‘R’s’ to explore this year…
Retreating can conjure up images of an army losing a battle, retreating back to their fortress. So it might sound strange suggesting a retreat at the beginning of the year, but hear me out. When God created the world, the last thing he made before he retreated and had a day off to rest, was humans. That means Adam and Eve’s first day on earth was the Sabbath rest! Retreating to be with their maker. I don’t think this is a coincidence – I love how God planned this! So why not plan in some space to retreat at the start of 2023, and enjoy resting with God.
This could look different for each of us. I like to plan a date in advance, adding it to my calendar so I don’t fill it with other things. Then my day often includes sitting in a nice café with my journal, or walking somewhere pretty – chatting to God whilst I wander through His beautiful creation. I love being creative, so often my retreats include being arty whilst I listen to worship songs, Lectio 365 or the You Version Bible App. I always come away feeling refreshed.
I wonder how many of you are excited by the idea of spending time by yourself with God? (I’m guessing a lot of introverts?!) Or maybe the thought of spending an extended period of time just by yourself fills you with dread? Why not organise a retreat with others! You can have time together and apart, holding each other accountable, praying and reading the Bible together. Do you know anyone who is interested in faith? Invite them along too! And if you want a tool to help, download the Discovery Bible Study App, which is ideal for exploring faith in small groups with people who are spiritually interested. The studies are designed to give an overview of the whole story of the Bible, and to help you ask questions to encounter God in the text.
However you decide to retreat, don’t forget to spend time listening! Sometimes I can get so engrossed in being creative, I forget to spend time listening for God’s voice. A great question to ask God is ‘What do you have in store for 2023?’ It’s also good to remind ourselves of our identity as a child of God, asking ‘Who do you say I am?’. Perhaps God wants to reveal a promise he has for you, or remind you of one from the past. Maybe God has a special, prophetic word he wants to share with you.
Slow down! Big changes can come through small rhythms. Regular prayer can grow your connection with God, as well as helping others to do the same. Don’t worry, none of us are perfect – we’ve all had times in life where we’re busy or demotivated and rhythms lapse. (I know I certainly have - all I can say is thank God for his grace!) But now’s the time to start afresh - it’s a new year with a clean slate.
The beauty of these rhythms is that there are so many different options, for example…
Too many rhythms will be a nightmare to remember, so just pick one to start! Then try adding another when you’re ready. Practising rhythms is like exercising muscles – the more you do it, the stronger you get.
Listening to Lectio 365 at the start or end of the day
Setting an alarm to pray at the same time each week for a specific person/situation
Praying whilst doing a regular activity/task e.g. drinking a morning coffee, ironing, going up/down the stairs, or driving (but keep your eyes open!)
Laying an extra place at your dinner table each day – as a reminder that Jesus is with you!
Having different prayer topics to say during Grace
Making a toast to Jesus, every time you have a glass of wine!
Ending the day by reflecting on what went well and thanking God, as well as what went badly and repenting. (I try have a rhythm of keeping a thankful diary, as well as repenting whilst I brush my teeth.)
Jesus calls us to respond to him, to the invitation. When he was training his disciples, they didn’t sit in a lecture hall and have a 12 slide PowerPoint presentation by Jesus! They learnt through action. They responded to the invitation by doing. As much as listening to sermons at church, or being in a Bible study with other Christians is helpful, our response as followers of Jesus is to go out and fish for people (especially if we remember to retreat and have regular rhythms too!).
14 years ago, HOPE ’08 (a national social action and evangelism event) hit streets and towns across the UK. As a result, Hope Together was birthed. Since then, God has been at work in powerful ways - if you want something to fire you up as you start the year, then the book ‘Here’s Hope’ is an amazing record of what Christians have done in mission as part of HOPE Together since 2008.
But now it’s a new year, and we’re ready for a fresh call to action! Hope 23-24 is a year of mission from September 2023 to August 2024. The goal is to bring churches together reaching out in refreshed, renewed evangelism in towns, villages and cities; all of us coming together under the umbrella of the word ‘Hope’.
And to get the ball rolling, I encourage you to choose 5 friends who don’t know Jesus yet and commit to praying for them whilst walking around your local area. With the OIKOS Prayer app, you can tag where you have prayer walked. Let’s reach every street and home in our country with the good news about Jesus!
So as I come to land this 1st blog of 2023, let’s lose the January blues and redeem new year resolutions by taking on the three R's of Retreat, Rhythms and Response. I’ll leave you with Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19:
Bring it on, 2023!