I’ve been putting off this blog post for a while now, mostly because it feels so much more real and vulnerable than some of the others I have written lately. Even though this whole fall has been incredibly intense and personal in general, I have purposefully written my blogs in a way that creates enough space for anyone reading it to connect it to themselves.
This blog post is just me, it is my story.
Every year, our pastor chooses a word or theme, and challenges us to do the same for the coming year. A couple of years ago, my theme was Never Dull, which you can read about here and was very much re-teaching me how beautiful and full life was in all moments. Life is Never Dull.
Last year, I had TEN words; It was ridiculous… Actually, in all honesty, I forgot about them a couple of months into the year. The chaos of the year overtook me, and it wasn’t until a friend mentioned them in a conversation sometime in October or so that I went back to my prayer journals to look them up again. – I was blown away to see that every single one of those words is what God was working on in me throughout 2017… Whether I remembered them or not didn’t actually change the fact that God worked on them in me despite what the year threw at me… The year was anything but peaceful, calm, tranquil, still etc…
I began praying about 2018 in October.
I started praying about it because I was feeling overwhelmed, fear-filled, and realizing that my heart didn’t trust God in a pretty substantial area.
I knew I needed to press in even more and let God work in and through me.
I knew that God had been speaking to me to “Hold Steadfast, Persevere, be Obedient.” But, I didn’t quite feel like these were the words or theme for 2018. And then November 2nd (a day when I was fasting), I felt like God clearly spoke to me “Love is patient“. And that has been rolling around in my head and heart since. The last six months has been one thing to the next that God is working on in me to rebuild and restore the trust that He didn’t damage. – But, even still, these are not the words or themes for 2018.
So, without even intending to, the word “Change” popped into my head out of nowhere as I drove back to DC from Atlanta. I was returning home after visiting my brother and his family for Thanksgiving; and road trips, along with the ocean seem to create space for my brain to think, process, and almost breathe deeply. However, because I always process and mull over things intensely, I began to think through how change was probably more my own self, and not from God. You see, not only am I accustomed to change, I love it (see all my random hair changes). I am used to major life change happening every couple of years, so I wasn’t confident that the word wasn’t just constructed by me. Yet, as I prayed over change, it seemed less of a tangible change (like previously it was new jobs, moving, etc..), and more of this feeling to “Watch and See the change around you. Change that I Am is going to do before your eyes without you controlling it.” – Yet, change just felt like my comfort zone word. So, after a week or so of praying over it, I decided to reach out to three girlfriends, and I asked them to pray for me/over me for my word or theme for 2018. I explained to them that I maybe had the word, but I was really uncertain, so without telling them my word, I wanted them to pray and come back to me and let me know what God spoke to them.
For the record… I very much love this accidental practice of asking other people to pray over/for you for your word/theme for the coming year; I will probably continue it in the future.
Four days later, the first girlfriend, in the middle of a conversation talking about something totally different, suddenly stopped and said, “Ok, the Lord told me that I have to share this word with you. I had that sudden check in my spirit and pit in my stomach.. So I have to tell you the word…” She had been praying for days and felt like she had a word, but also didn’t think it made sense and kept trying to pray for a different word; but in that moment, she was confident that the Holy Spirit wanted her to share it.
“Watch. As in, step back and watch, observe and see all that God is going to do with anticipation.”
Instantly, I knew that both Change and Watch were so interconnected that they were accurate. Confirmation. The feel descriptions that came with both words rolled one to the other exactly right and I knew that these two words had settled for 2018.
About a day later, the second girlfriend came and said, “I have three words.” (oh gosh)
“The first is Re-Make. As in, let God remake you, remake and cultivate your foundation, changing who you are. Which you and He are already doing, but will continue and look different in 2018.
The second is Anticipant. – I don’t know that I’ve ever said the word Anticipant in my whole life. But, you need to be anticipant of what the Lord is going to do. Which leads to the third word, I think both of these words are going to restore Hope in you.
So, the third is Hope. God is going to remake your Hope, and you need to be open and anticipant of what He’s doing.”
Change. Watch. Remake. Anticipant. Hope.
Are you noticing a theme?
The next day, the third girlfriend came and said, “I have two words.” (And then the next day said, “Actually, I have a third word, but I didn’t want to tell you the last one and wasn’t sure about it, so I needed to pray over it some more.“)
“Open. Open-minded, Open-hearted, Open-handed. All three require dependence on him, abiding in following, and humility/soft heart. Which you’ve been doing, and I’ve seen start being more of a consistent trait in you.
Cultivate. Similar to open in that God has been helping you cultivate a bridge between your head and your heart. But it’s also a 2.0 feeling of cultivating new: community, career, you’re own voice, how you follow Him, hear His voice, and your character.
Pruning. One of my favorite explanations of pruning is that it doesn’t have anything to do with cutting or getting rid of what’s dead or not growing. Pruning has to do with there’s a limited amount of healthy supply and nutrients a plant can divide up. So pruning is all about prioritizing what is healthy and what/who gets your resources to remain healthy and balanced. Maintaining that balance takes cultivating.”
In all honesty, the word Pruning gave me a little bit of ptsd from the end of 2013, and the entire year of 2014. Easily the hardest year and a half of my life, and one that took me almost all of 2015 to heal and recover from. Yet, after talking through it, it would seem that this pruning is more about creating space for God to do and move the way He wants to, creating a more healthy me in the process… Not so much the pain involved in severe pruning like 2014 was for me.
Change. Watch. Remake. Anticipant. Hope. Open. Cultivate. Pruning.
One of the things that is I think the most unusual thing about this whole process and these words, is that with each word and the description of the feelings behind them rolled right into each of the next words. I talked more about these words with the three of my girlfriends together after I had all of the words, and it seems pretty clear that this year will be So intense. So challenging. – But not painful in an injury way.
Like, the difference between something being difficult and getting hurt vs being difficult and getting injured. Maybe a better way to say is it will be the type of pain involved when you exercise; you are breaking down muscles, making them sore and tired, but ultimately building them up and becoming stronger with more endurance in the process.
I believe very much that 2018 will be challenging, and full of intense growth, but that it will not be the type of painful that injures me; instead, I think this year will be the type of pain that comes with exercising.
I have passages of scripture for six of the eight the words for 2018:
Change – Romans 11:29 (ISV), 1 Samuel 10:6
Watch – Micah 7:7
Remake – Colossians 3:10
Anticipant – Psalm 40:1
Hope – Romans 4:18
Cultivate – Psalm 90:12, 37:3
The 8 of 2018.
I cannot even begin to pretend like I know all (or any) of what the Lord will do this year. I wish so much that I could have specifics, know exactly what I’m working towards.
Because I am who I am,
I want to grow faster and do better in this process.
But, that’s actually the point… growing faster and doing better isn’t at all what 2018 is going to be about.
What I do know, is that these eight words are the areas that God is going to work on in me and through me.
He has every intention of rebuilding the areas of my heart where Trust in Him and His faithfulness is broken or simply not there.
He plans to use 2018 to completely change me, and make me more into the woman that He has intended for me to be all along.
He plans to use this year as a banner year to look back on, point to all the things that He did, and because of 2018, I will better be able to give Him honor and glory.
This year, I also have no doubt that I will learn how to hear Him and follow Him better.
But mostly, this year I will learn to Trust Him and believe in His complete Faithfulness.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:4-8