It’s 10:41am on Jan 1, 2019 and I am already struck with how much I hate change. I tend to be a bit like a duck on water when it comes to moments or seasons of transition. All may look cool and calm on the exterior but my insides are paddling like mad to get back to some place safe. As I sit here drinking my coffee and perusing over the new cookbook I got for Christmas, I feel an impending sense of dread.
Every year, each member of my family prays and asks the Lord for a word for the year. A point of focus to come back to when things get cloudy. I felt very strongly my word for 2019 is joy. Cool, right?!?! Except no. I don’t feel excited or hopeful about my word. Not because it’s not a great word or something that we couldn’t all use a bit more of. It’s because it’s different. I am comfortable with my word from 2018. I already know what it means and what is required of me there. My word and all the life that comes with it has already been fleshed out. There are no more surprises, no more wondering, no more unanswered questions. 2019, not so much.
This has been a big moment of revelation for me. It’s not like I ever thought of myself as someone who liked change or who easily rolled with the punches. But I didn’t realize until this moment how deeply changed affected my guts. To actually feel dread about a word given from the Lord that, for all intents and purposes, should elicit at least hopeful anticipation tells me something in my heart has gone wrong. So, what’s wonky?
For me, 2018 was a year of highs and lows. No real middle ground here. Dad’s cancer was back but then a glowing report at the conclusion of radiation. No work on my folk’s destroyed home until August, but then we got to move them home in October. A bad situation at work, but then the perfect solution opened up. Interpersonal relationships that appear to be on the brink of imploding one day and then seem fine the next. And just like anyone who rides a rollercoaster, actual or emotional, for an extended period of time, I have come to the end of 2018 exhausted.
Exhausted and disappointed. As I was driving around town running errands, I was thinking thru a conversation I had earlier that day. The details are fuzzy now, but at some point I said to my friend “the biggest heartbreak you may ever experience on this earth is realizing God isn’t who you thought He was and life isn’t what you expected.” I am realizing at this point in my life that it always works out, but it rarely works out how you envision. And disappointment is painful. So is growing thru disappointment. I think that’s why my word feels so ominous. I find myself fearful of the pain associated with whatever growth the Lord has in store for me in 2019. Finding joy in the midst of growing pains is always a heady task. But as I comb the scriptures tonight, I am seeing over and over again that joy, even joy in the midst of pain, always bring refreshing. It refreshes us and it is refreshing those with whom we do life. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit when the Lord is given the space to be alive and active in our heart and soul. And fruit is sweet. Fruit is juicy. Fruit is refreshing.
Refreshing. Just saying the word causes me to exhale deeply. As I type, the Lord is drawing me back to a place of trust in Him and His goodness towards me. Tag team, back again. Back to this same struggle to believe He is for me. Back from the delusion of self-sufficiency to a place of dependence. Back to a quiet faith that there is purpose and provision for the message of freedom burning inside.
I’m not sure what shape you were in when you landed in 2019, and I don’t know what word or vision the Lord has placed on your heart for the year to come. But tonight, I am reminded of this: He isn’t finished. Philippians 1:6 tells us He will keep working in us and through us until the job is done. That tells me this year is an important piece of the puzzle for us both. Do not be deceived into believing that this year or this season or this work doesn’t matter. Because it does. It so does. Remember that, dear one.