Well it’s almost the end of January, which means a large percentage of people have already tossed their New Year’s resolutions aside. Me? I didn’t make any this year, so I’m right on track ;)
Seriously though, sometimes I do write out a few goals, or way too many, and sometimes I have a word for the year to serve as inspiration. That’s what I have for 2023, a word I haven’t been able to shake for the past few months:
I know what you’re thinking, but no, I’m not scheduling appointments with a chiropractor or starting yoga. This year my intention is to better align myself with God’s Will and God’s Word. Basically, I’m wanting to identify and adjust attitudes and behaviors in my life that do not match up with my beliefs, which from the outside shouldn’t be too hard, but on the inside…
Yeah, I have my work cut out for me.
I’m not going to lie, 2022 was a very difficult year for me emotionally. I couldn’t understand why because it wasn’t all that difficult when considering the circumstances. I’d been through worse.
At first, I thought it was the culmination of all the Covid-related craziness from the previous two years. Or a result of the few years before that, when my family dealt with an extended period of unemployment, a cross-country move, and the accompanying financial stress. Yet, in the midst of those storms I stayed pretty well afloat. Sure, I had my moments of frustration, but for the most part I kept my eyes on Jesus and grew a ton in my faith. That’s when I started writing too, and I’m so grateful for that outlet.
So, what changed? Why was I suddenly feeling so overwhelmed?
Oh. Right. My husband got Covid in November 2021, and was in the hospital for ten days, then on oxygen for another month.
Ten days of not seeing him, of barely speaking to him, and of reassuring my kiddos he was fine when I’d received no reassurances from medical staff (or updates from them at all – not one). But I handled it like a champ. On the outside. Because I didn’t actually handle it at all.
I avoided it.
I binge watched mindless television when I should’ve been on my knees praying. I did whatever I could not to think about all the what ifs. Basically, I took my eyes off Jesus, and relied on my own strength. And even after all that chaos ended I continued swimming in that same direction
No wonder I started floundering.
As Christians we are called to stay strong and persevere. Yet we are never meant to be the source of that strength. If we lean on ourselves, we fall in no time flat, then wonder why we can’t scrape ourselves off the ground.
But that’s not our job. Our job is to remain faithful.
I never abandoned my faith. I never stopped believing God cared or doubted He could help. I cherished those truths in my head and my heart, but I never fleshed them out. I treaded water so hard I focused on nothing but the exhaustion. I panicked, and somehow temporarily forgot that God had me in His hands the whole time.
I forgot I wasn’t swimming alone.
I forgot God doesn’t let go.
I kept reading my Bible, in fact, I read through it in a year which I hadn’t done in quite a while. I was consistent, but I was checking boxes. My prayer life was the same. Shallow. And it resulted in previously unknown levels of anxiety.
Because I’m a stubborn woman it took some time to figure all this out, but eventually I got there and repented of my hypocrisy.
That’s really the only word for it.
Because I believe God is good. I believe God is in control. And I believe God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. I just wasn’t living like those things were true.
I was living out of alignment.
This revelation really hit me around Thanksgiving, surrounded by flowery sentiments of gratitude. And I am happy to report God brought me to a place where I was truly thankful, not just for the wonderful people and things He has blessed me with that are easy to remember, but for the things He withheld and the things He took away. I praised Him for the struggles and the worries and the fears, because those are all future good things.
I praised Him for all of it, and I actually meant it.
I want to keep meaning it. Every single day.
I want to live a life fully aligned with my faith. A life that oozes joy and hope and peace that surpasses all understanding.
It won’t be a life without troubles, those are guaranteed, but it can be one where I don’t ignore the worries or hide the hurts, because I have a healer I can bring them to. A life where I can face the hard things head-on since I know I won’t face them alone.
None of us have to face any of this alone, and if you're a follower of Christ, you are not alone. You never will be.
And victory is guaranteed.
Don’t forget that.