It’s the closing of 2013, and I can safely say, looking into the mirror of my soul, that I do not well recognize the girl who began this year. I’m not sure what I expected for 2013, but I’m fairly certain that very little of it came to pass. Instead, God had better plans, more exciting plans, plans to grow me and challenge me.
To begin 2013, I chose a word (or should I rather say, God chose a word) as a theme for the year: TRUST. The funny thing is, that’s the word that defined 2012 as well. Apparently I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. = ) When I prayed about the upcoming year and what word might set the stage for its arrival, God really surprised me with this one. I honestly never thought I had many issues with trusting God, and any that I had were taken care of the year before. But apparently, that was because I hadn’t been through the Refiner’s fire enough. Too much of my life had been “in my control” and mapped out, for me to really know the life-changing impact of that one, little word. Praise God that He didn’t choose to take me through a completely chaotic season to teach me, but He certainly did guide me through a twisty road. A road upon which I traveled, unable to see around the next bend… or even past the next step. Many times I felt (and feel) like Abraham, going to a land that “God will show me.” A land of promise, yet cloaked in mystery. I am still walking this twisty road, one faltering step after another.
I started the year as a part-time freelance editor, college graduate, “in-control”, prideful woman, and most confidently of all, NOT a teacher.
Let’s just say I’m ending the year as an Associate Editor at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (still doing freelance), a woman who’s learning she’s not-so-in-control but can trust the One Who is, a woman who still struggles with pride, but is fighting it in God’s strength, and most shockingly of all, A TEACHER. God sure has crazy awesome plans, overabundant grace, and a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
Most incredible of all are the changes in my life that probably only those closest to me can recognize, and which words cannot adequately capture. God is truly taking this weak soul and making it strong by His grace. He is taking brokenness aside and making it beautiful.
This year, God has taught me so many beautiful, yet difficult truths, that I barely know where to start. He has taught me that, believe it or not, life is not about me, my comforts, my desires, or my wishes. Yes, He loves me and wants HIS best for me, but that doesn’t always look like MY best.
I’ve learned that life is complicated and things don’t always go as I plan, but God has it all under control. This year has breathed a whole new meaning into James 4:13-15:
‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’
This is a lesson I feel like I’m still struggling to learn, but God has shown me how futile it is to make my own plans apart from Him. He’s shown me the pointless vanity in “never”s, “I will”s, and “always”s. Instead, I’ve found that, when I submit my plans, wishes, and dreams to Him, His plans are so much more incredible than my own.
Reigning supreme this year is the all-consuming reality that God is fully in control, He has a plan, He loves me and cares about the details of my life, and that His plan is way bigger than me. Only when I am fully satisfied in Him, fully surrendered to His plan, can I be bringing Him the greatest glory. It is no strength of my own or self-righteous sacrifice of my desires that He asks of me. Instead, it is acknowledging my weakness so He can be made strong, and delighting myself in Him so that all other desires pale in comparison.
I’ve also discovered that relationships are messy and often difficult, because they are two (or more) flawed, messed-up, complicated individuals joining different parts of their lives together. I’ve found that this joining, no matter to what degree or in what setting (whether passing contact, or life-long friendship), requires sacrifice and effort. But you know what? I’ve also learned that it is so worth the sacrifice. Because relationships with other people are beautiful. They’re beautiful because God designed them, He made us to crave relationships, both with Him and other people.
God uses relationships as mirrors to show us faults in our own lives, reveal blindspots, and uncover hidden weaknesses. But, He also uses them to challenge, encourage, and strengthen us as we grow. Over and over, I’ve learned to give the benefit of the doubt, think of a situation from the other person’s perspective, and recognize that my imagination is almost always worse than reality. I am beyond blessed with family and friends who have stood by me through many obstacles, challenged me to persevere, shown themselves faithful, and who make me smile and praise God when I think of them. These are the people who I have laughed with, prayed with, waded through life with, worshipped God with, and been raw and real with. You guys know who you are; thank you for your faithful friendship. I love ya’ll!
All of this is barely scratching the surface of what God has taught me and the ways He has turned my world upside-down, but for the sake of brevity I must end my rambling reflections here. I pray for myself and every one of you reading this, a year in which God does whatever it takes to bring each of us to a place where He is our everything and where we bring Him the most glory.
And now, as I peer through squinted eyes into the foggy shadows of 2014, I see beams of sunlight silhouetting the outlines of what is to come. I sense even more change and growth, I anticipate the many decisions I must make, and I eagerly taste a hint of what floats mysteriously in the air: hope.
To begin 2013, I chose a word (or should I rather say, God chose a word) as a theme for the year: TRUST. When I prayed about the upcoming year and what word might set the stage for its arrival, God really surprised me with this one. I honestly never thought I had many issues with trusting God, but apparently that was because I hadn’t been through the Refiner’s fire enough. Too much of my life had been “in my control” and mapped out, for me to really know the life-changing impact of that one, little word. Praise God that He didn’t choose to take me through a completely chaotic season to teach me, but He certainly did guide me through a twisty road. A road upon which I traveled, unable to see around the next bend… or even past the next step. Many times I felt (and feel) like Abraham, going to a land that “God will show me.” A land of promise, yet cloaked in mystery. I am still walking this twisty road, one faltering step after another.