Grace. That was my word for 2014. The word that I hoped would carry me through a year of transition, adventure, and challenge. I wanted to live like I believed “I don’t need to be enough, because Jesus is enough.” Little did I know that when I prayed for a word, God would give me a word that became increasingly relevant as the year continued.
Grace. This was the year that I learned to laugh at myself. The year I realized that I don’t have to be “perfect.” This was the year that I gave myself room to be myself. When I finished senior year, I finally realized that I would have been so much happier if I had been myself without worrying about what others thought of me. And so, I stopped worrying so much.
But then I went to college, a place where everyone seemed unique, talented, and wonderful. And, well, I started feeling average again. I began to compare myself to those around me. I hated not being recognized as unique because everyone around me was so talented. I started believing those lies: I’m average. I’m ordinary. I’m not enough. And just when I began to lose what I had found, I heard a voice whispering, “grace.”
I spent the first few weeks of college searching for a church. At home I had attended a church my parents had chosen but that I had come to love. At college I found a church that I thought would be a practical choice, but after a few weeks, I didn’t feel connected. I didn’t feel connected at school and I no longer felt connected at home. I felt stuck in between and I felt like that wasn’t good enough. Once again, I heard that word: grace – to give myself time to settle.
When I worked so hard to study and received an unsatisfactory grade, I spoke the word “grace.” When I felt lonely and homesick, I remembered grace. When I was sick and weak, I held onto grace. In the unglamorous moments, grace found me. The word I had chosen at the beginning of 2014 became my anthem.
Now, it’s the beginning of a new year. Just as last year, I have no idea what this year will hold, but I have a word: persist. To be honest, I’m a little scared. The unknown is always unnerving but God has given me a glimpse of the future with this single word. Persist is a word of reward but also of great challenge. Looking into 2015, I know that I need to persist in my school, my friendships, my prayer, and my spiritual growth. Just as grace did last year, I have faith that “persist” will carry me through this new year.
You want to know how I know? God’s faithfulness.
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings, all the things God has done that need praising.” -Isaiah 63:7
When I look back at the past year, I can see all the ways that God’s grace sustained me. When I wasn’t enough, He was enough.
We are what we remember. When you look back on the past year, what do you see? I hope you see God’s faithfulness in your life. Recognizing God’s provision for you in the last year is one of the greatest ways you can start your next year right.
A heart of thankfulness will change your circumstances.
There’s a reason that we make New Year’s resolutions. We desire change. We desire things to be better than they are. On January 1, social media is filled with phrases such as “new year, new me” and “time for a new start.” Perhaps we are seeing our year in the wrong light. We look at the past year as everything we didn’t do, rather than everything we did do. Instead of seeing God’s faithfulness, we see everywhere we fell short. Maybe we need to start viewing success as what we have, instead of what we want.
All throughout the Psalms, David praises God for his faithfulness. David consistently has a heart of gratitude and I can just hear the exuberance in his voice.
“I’m thanking you, God, out in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud’s a flag to your faithfulness.” -Psalm 108:3-4, (MSG)
Perhaps you’ve already broken your “resolutions.” Or perhaps you are reading this in the middle of the year. Wherever you may be, I encourage you to look back and mark God’s faithfulness. With that in mind, I also challenge you to set a word for the year. I know, its February already, but there is still time to choose a word that exemplifies how you want to live this year. A word that brings you closer to the heart of God. A word that will allow you to see His provision in your life at the end of the year.
When we start praising God, we’ll start seeing His faithfulness. And maybe then, we will realize that we don’t need to start fresh, because the past was part of our story and part of God’s story — a story that proclaims His faithfulness.
So here’s to a new year, no new starts, but simply pressing forward into God’s faithfulness.
// image by Ellie DuHadway