Name Your Blessings.

“In 2016, we lived, we loved, and we lost. But I do not wish any of the obstacles or experiences away.”

Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of stuff on social media about how “2016 was a bad year” and people are ready for it to be over. Sure, this was the year of an historic presidential election – to say the least. This was also the year we lost many close friends, family members, and celebrities. We cannot forget about the 173 deaths (and counting) of African-Americans at the hands of police. 

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The list of all of the “bad things” that have happened over the last 365 days goes on and on. However, if you thought I would continue to highlight our negative moments this year, you should stop reading now and visit the Google search engine (see above). Though there have been some negative experiences, I believe it would be ungrateful of me (and us) to ignore the blessings on blessings on blessings, we all experienced – starting with the gift of life at the end of another calendar year.

Reflecting on 2016, I have been blessed with opportunities and breakthroughs I would have never imagined. I graduated from the University of South Carolina and started graduate school at The Ohio State University. (Beat Clemsux!) I walked away from a car accident on the highway, unscathed from injuries and with a strengthened faith in Christ. I traveled internationally more than once and even stood inside President Obama’s crib, more commonly known as The White House.

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Before transitioning to 2017, I believe it is important for us to reflect and name why 2016 was such a purposeful year. To help author this counter-narrative, I asked five extraordinary leaders whose stories inspire me and many others to share their thoughts.

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“Reflecting on a year is like stringing together and reordering a smattering of fragmented memories. I carefully examine each moment and gingerly place it back in it’s home inside its memory. The collection is then tied up with a bow and labeled “2016.” The year, I have visited places so enchanting I wonder how I have never heard of them, met people so incredible I suddenly cannot imagine living without, and faces so friendly with smiles that will forever be etched in my mind. We are lucky enough to live in a world where these small victories are everyday realities and the best part is that these moments are not confined to specific years. The power to create these moments is intrinsic. Use it to shape your reality and everyone else’s while you’re at it.” – Arlyn Thaler

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“2016 was mind blowing because of the preparation that was done leading into the new year. Not only was preparation crafted, but full belief in God was birthed. There’s an innate feeling you receive when you pursue your goals with all your heart, while not knowing the end result, but trusting that God will get you there. In the process of depending on him, you will experience a total transformation and surprise yourself of the new growth. I went from receiving half results from half belief to extraordinary and shocking results from full belief. Ask yourself: Can you receive full results from half efforts?” – Nick Parks

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“In 2016, I found more of myself in many ways. I found myself through travel, success, failure, and through growth. I learned the importance of being present and living every moment. In 2016, for the first time in a while, I was happy.”- Chelsea Appiah

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“2016 has been, for lack of better words, turbulent for many of us. However, 2016 has also brought some great moments in my life. I was accepted into my dream graduate program at The Ohio State University. I’ve traveled to new cities. I’ve expanded my mind with a plethora of knowledge and opportunities. I was also fortunate to reconnect with past friends/colleagues and meet some amazing people. Lastly, I was blessed with a beautiful niece Arianna, and her baby sister Elena who is forthcoming and watched my mother be proposed to by the love of her life.” – Javi Rodriguez

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“The biggest blessing I’ve experienced this year was graduating college and doing so debt-free, thanks to my generous parents. With that being said, I had saved a lot of money and was able to buy a car this year all by myself. I temporarily pacified the travel bug in me by visiting Florida, the Dominican Republic, Kiawah Island, and Canada. I began graduate classes and started gaining work experience at a high-caliber institution while making amazing friendships along the way. Finally, I continued pursuing my passion for volleyball by accepting a coaching position at a local middle school in Columbus, with an amazing and enthusiastic group of young girls.” – Ashley Lorah

I pray you’ve been energized, motivated, and/or encouraged by the optimism and humility expressed through these stories. When we reflect on 2016, we don’t believe it was the “worst year ever” nor are we anxious for it to be over. We believe this was a year filled with success, historic accomplishments, and intentional growth.

“You already receive from God whether you thank Him for it or not.”Lauren Harper

Before the sun sets for the last time this year, let us give thanks for our journey. Whether you passed a class you previously struggled with, earned your first professional job or gained new lifelong friendships, I believe this was a year we can all be grateful for. Comment and name your blessings below so that we can all celebrate together what a great year 2016 has truly been!

“In 2016, we lived, we loved, and we lost. But I do not wish any of the obstacles or experiences away. As we look towards 2017, we must not falter in our ability to be resilient, and hold steadfast in our mission and visions.” – Javi Rodriguez 

Encourage somebody to be great today! 

Tim Bryson

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