I have been reflecting on the evolution of my faith walk as it relates to the tradition of choosing an intentional word for the New Year.
I've been a believer nearly all my life but it wasn't until more recent years that I came to understand the true relationship that Jesus offers and the way of life He calls us to live. If that sounds like fluff talk to you, I urge you to ask me more about my testimony, because my faith was solidified over Christ's handling of the unexpected, devastating circumstances in my life and the lives of others. And trust me, it wasn't just that it all worked out.
But I realized there was a kind of maturity process to our spiritual life. Like a Polaroid photo I could finally see my faith was developing and with each new commitment to God, a piece of my picture was further revealed.
Despite the truth that sang in my heart, I still had trouble holding my faith in my mind continuously. I would often spiral down paths of self absorption and self reliance before realizing I had not factored my faith into things at all.
I started choosing just one word to cling to, to bring me back when I strayed.
At first and maybe for several years it was Prayer. This came out of total necessity after everything in my life had been destroyed. I had been stripped of all security and I felt in constant danger. The only thing I knew to do was pray. Luckily, that happens to be the best mode for God to reach us anyway.
Out of this practice developed my first new foundation in Christ. I turned to Him and He was there, simple and absolute. It was not easy and my life still looked like ruins for several years. But inside, He was knitting me back together, He was restoring me.
The next word I moved on to was Fearless, which absolved me of debilitating anxiety as I worked to identify my fears, call them out by name, and replace them with God's sovereignty over all. That is a whole, wonderful story for another day.
Now stable and relatively healthy, I found myself still having trouble remembering God on a day to day basis. I'd get distracted or wrapped up in other influences. Days would go by before I would think to consult Him about any matter even though I wanted, I needed, to be with Him in every step. So I graduated to the word Abide.
When I would feel myself falling out of attunement with God, I would return myself by repeating "Abide, abide, abide." It was a reminder that I wanted to live in the presence of God continually. That as long as I am within His shadow, like a lamb of the shepherd, I am held in love. It reminded me that God is my home and His home is in me. Not just a friend I phone in times of trouble, but a permanent source of healing, provision, and love.
2019 was the first year I can remember my chosen word coinciding with setting an intention for the New Year. I chose Peace.
I had gotten pretty good at honing the God's peace over trying circumstances. But as this bible verse states, I desired the peace of God infiltrate my entire being and be present with me always, not just in times of distress. It was also a healthy reminder that this type of peace comes over a process. It is not delivered all at once. It is grown like a garden carefully cultivated.
In 2020 I really wanted to put my indecisiveness and lack of confidence to rest. I chose Discernment.
Little did I know 2020 would bring a multitude of important decisions for the entire world. Which sources of information to trust, to wear a mask or not, to send your kids to school or homeschool, to hide your whole family in a bomb shelter or attempt a return to normal activities? As a parent, every step has been filled with deliberation, and I couldn't be more glad that I started off the year with the intention to ASK GOD for wisdom.
But there is a wonderful gift in a developing discernment. God could have at any time created mindlessly obedient beings. Instead He chose free will, which gives us the opportunity to develop any wisdom at all as we go through life making choices and evaluating our circumstances.
I loved meditating over each of these words and what God has brought forth through them in my life. I've already chosen my word for 2021 and will reveal it soon!
I have two young sons, ages six and four. From pregnancy and beyond, they have been mirroring back to me more than I ever could have dreamed of learning about myself and my own growth. As we grow together through this life, I hope to always mirror back to them the same inspiration, strength, and wonder they have shown me.