With the new year, what I feel in addition to excitement is a renewed confidence in my community, a belief that no matter what comes or what the future holds, we can make it, because we made it through last year.
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As time does, this week finds us acknowledging that time has swiftly passed.

It seems as though it was just summer... just autumn... just Christmas. And now we're embarking on a brand-new year.

For a lot of folks, the new year is filled with the hope of what's to come. There's so much possibility in the coming days, weeks and months. I'm excited too.

But what I feel in addition to excitement is a renewed confidence in my community, a belief that no matter what comes or what the future holds, we can make it, because we made it through last year.

Much like the line from Invictus, we've made it "bloodied but unbowed."

Last year was hard for this nation, particularly for the African-American community and families nationwide who are facing a new year still mourning the loss of loved ones.

Too many black and brown men and women lost their lives to tragedy in 2014 -- too many to name, in fact, and there are some names that were never once uttered on the evening news. With their last breaths went unknown potential, untapped wisdom, and unrealized power. These are losses too great to put into words.

So while many are facing this new year with excitement and optimism, there are a great many still who are simply relieved, glad to have finished with a year that tested and tried us -- our patience, our faith, our fortitude.

We were bent to near breaking last year. We often felt as though we cried more than we smiled, worried more than we hoped, fought more than we simply lived.

We struggled and scratched and clawed through layoffs and loss, debt and depression, sadness and sacrifice. We prayed and pursued. We protested and proclaimed. We worked and waited.

Many of us made it to 2015 only by the grace of God. And we're relieved just to have made it.

If this is you, if all you feel about 2015 so far is relief that 2014 is over, know this: You made it.

The storms that the enemy thought would take you out only made you stronger. The traps the enemy meant to harm you only catapulted you forward with more focus and greater determination. What would have literally caused someone else to lose their mind motivated you to keep going, to not give up.

And you're here, standing at the dawn of a new year, bloodied but unbowed, bent but unbroken, a little weary but still a battle-ready warrior.

To you I say: Own your stripes. There's a courage, a confidence, and a determination that comes with overcoming. Yours is a testimony no one else can give, because they haven't walked in your shoes, haven't fought the battles you've won.

To you I say: Stand tall and proud, because while others were too busy wishing away their todays hoping for tomorrows, you lived and breathed every moment -- the good, the bad, and the unbearable.

To you I say: Don't shrink back. Don't be so overcome with relief that you forget the strength, the faith, and the resilience your trials earned you. Yes, you may be bloodied, but you remain unbowed.

To you I say: This is a new day, a day ordained for your victory, predestined for your triumph.
This day, this week, this year is a year of restoration for you.

God saw every test, every trial, and every tear. He heard every prayer and every plea. And for you He has worked in the background to bless you in the open.

Time will not slow down. It won't ease because we're tired or overwhelmed or overcome. But it is the memory of what we've already been through -- and beaten! -- that spurs us on in our weakest moments.

My prayer for you is that even as you make resolutions, you'll also make it a point to count your blessings and your wins. In all of your forward thinking, look back long enough to claim your hard-earned strength and faith and fight.

Own your stripes and your bruises, walk standing tall and proud, and honor the important parts of the "old" you in this new year.

Bloodied but unbowed. Bruised but unbroken. And blessed in spite of it all.

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