“Renewer of hearts and insights, Lord of day and night, Former of times and circumstances, Form our inner being to the best state of mind.

This is the New Year’s prayer in Iran, where I come from. It is prayed just before the New Year, like the time when people in the Netherlands start counting down.

As a child, I often heard it, and then it felt so magical. Somebody who keeps everything going and causes miraculous changes, so people lived ‘happily ever after.’

As I got older, I realized better what was happening around me. We experienced years of war, dictatorship, shortages of all kinds of goods, economic misery, and foreign sanctions. My uncles got handicapped in the army and the house of my grandfather got bombed. There was little security in my young life. As my age increased, so did my cynicism. At first, I started to find the prayer odd, and then foolish. In the midst of misery people asked for the ‘best state of mind.’ I thought, these people don’t want to take charge.

I was 21 when I moved to the Netherlands. In the tradition of my new country, there was no ‘New Year’s prayer.’ No, we have good intentions. We are assertive and take action to become happier.

Until this year. After 2020, the year of corona, I reverted back to this old prayer on New Year’s eve. I did so because only now do I understand the wisdom of it. All certainties of humanity are just as vulnerable as man himself. In the midst of all difficulties, your mindset determines how you experience the quality of your life. And that mindset is not always something you have control of. When misery happens to you, you cannot always form the right inner attitude. You need grace for that.

That is why this year, in the Netherlands, I prayed for all of us: “Form our inner being to the best state of mind.”

Sara van der Toorn (1976) is a trainer and speaker and regularly writes a blog in Visie, the magazine of EO broadcasting corporation. This blog is used with permission.

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