My Way of Making 2016 the Happiest Year Yet

{By Ellery Sadler}

Have you heard of people picking a word for the year? Generosity. Focus. Contentment. Rest. It’s a way to set the tone for the year and refocus yourself when sometime about March you forget all your New Year’s resolutions.

I like the idea and I’ve done it for a couple years myself, but this year I couldn’t think of the right word. No word really stuck out to me. No Bible verse jumped off the pages. But as I looked back over 2015 and thought about what I’d learned through the myriad of experiences: making new friends, learning how to connect with high schoolers, serving with Young Life, running on little sleep and lots of school, letting go of the past, traveling – one thing stood out to me: I am blessed. You are blessed. I used to think of being blessed as outward expressions of God’s favor: success, happiness, safety, health, family. But being blessed goes beyond the things that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. We’re each blessed in different ways, and most of the time it isn’t in material success.

Blessed does not mean being happy. Blessed means being made holy.

Every experience, every breath is a blessing, a holy consecration of that moment of time we call life. Every moment can be counted a blessing if it is viewed in light of God’s desire to make us holy by giving us the holy experience of life.

Whether you’re panting after running a marathon or using an inhaler or slowly taking your last breath – it is a blessing. Because being human is an incredible gift. It is an unfathomable gift to be brought into being, to be created.

A lot has happened in the last year and looking ahead, I couldn’t pick one word that encapsulates what I think God is calling me to. But I had an epiphany yesterday. (Driving for seven hours in the car often leads to epiphanies, just fyi.) And I knew my word for the year would actually be a phrase.

It’s a G I F T.

This is the motto I want etched across every adventure, every heartache, every friendship. It’s a gift. It’s a gift to be love to someone else and be loved yourself. And it’s just as much a gift to feel heartache and disappointment and pain. Because there is no greater gift that the human experience. Yes, it’s messy but it is also unbelievably beautiful. And gifts are meant to be opened, enjoyed, and shared.

So open life. Fling open the doors of your heart and love with a reckless, crazy kind of abandon that makes people wonder who told you it was ok to invest in people like that. Stretch wide the corners of your mind and broaden your horizons. Read and learn and travel and educate yourself. Open your apartment or dorm or home and invite people in for a meal, a conversation, a chance to connect.

So enjoy this year, enjoy it to the fullest. I think there is often a misconception that enjoying something is selfish. Enjoying something is worship. It is an expression of gratitude to the giver. So enjoy this year because the One who is giving it to you is worthy of your worship. Enjoy random walks in the rain. Enjoy your little cousin’s silly jokes. Enjoy your classes. Enjoy your late nights with friends. Enjoy the smell of summer. There is no room for guilt in a heart that is grateful. Breathe in and enjoy what you’ve been given.

And share your blessings. People say blessings should be counted, and they should. But more than hoarded in a numbered list in your mind, they should be shared. So scatter blessings this year. If you’ve been blessed with a great sense of humor, tell your funny stories – this world needs a little more laughter and a little less stress. If you’ve been blessed with a car, give somebody a ride that doesn’t have one. If you’ve been blessed with enough room, let a friend crash on your couch. If you’ve been blessed with a wonderful family, invite your friends over and share it.

Gifts were never meant to be just received. Gifts are to be given away.

So that is my resolution for the year of 2016. It’s not something fancy. It’s not really something that can be checked off of my list of things to do. It’s just acknowledging what I’ve been learning: every single moment – whether happy or sad, whether ordinary or crazy – is a gift.

my goals for 2016

And that is the way I want to live in 2016.


  1. […] get to choose. The fact that you get to choose is a gift. It’s called free will and God gave it to you so that life would be rich with real love and real […]

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