I didn’t start 2018 off with a specific word or theme. Some years it’s been very clear but that was not the case 365 days ago. However, as I look back over the 2018, I am certain the common thread was HOPE. It appeared repeatedly.
Back in February, I participated in a class at church called “Repurposed.” During those weeks, I realized that inspiring hope was a part of my God-given purpose. Throughout the year as I struggled physically, there were multiple recurring scriptures on hope that provided great encouragement. And toward the end of the year, God used a book called “Hope When It Hurts” to minister to me in this crazy Lyme journey.
I certainly haven’t mastered the hope thing. In fact, I’ve flopped in that department more times than I can count. But God is faithful to remind me, time and time again, that I can place my hope in Him. He is my hope. And I’m more aware now than I was a year ago.
Fast forward. 2019 is here. And over the past few weeks, I’ve considered what this year’s theme might be, what God wants to teach me. So I prayed. And God continually brought me me to the word RENEW. So I looked up the definition…
RENEW: to make like new; restore to freshness, vigor or perfection; to make new spiritually; to restore to existence; to make extensive changes in; to do again; to begin again.
Umm… yes, please, and thank you. I read the definition and immediately identified with every word. My need for renewal was evident. How I long to have energy and feel fresh, to be restored and made new again. And hope has prepared me for the journey.
So RENEW is the word. My theme, my prayer, my hope for 2019. I’m praying for a renewed body, a renewed mind, a renewed spirit, renewed relationships, renewed joy, renewed vision, renewed passion, and renewed hope. Just to name a few. 😬
Often at the start of a new year, we throw out a word or goal on social media. Almost everyone’s doing it. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good. Goals are important. Prayerful planning and sharing help to make them attainable. But if anyone out there is like me, you rush out the gate without thinking it through and fall off the wagon before February even hits. Or you have the big idea of what you’re pursuing but have no realistic next step. I’m guilty of that far more than I care to mention. I sometimes feel as though I’ve been crowned queen of inconsistency, thanks to chronic illness interruptions. So rather than attempt to map out my year (and get discouraged when things don’t work out), I’m going to take one step forward. And share it for the sake of accountability and prayer support. And then trust that my next step will lead me to the step after that. Steps of faith.
My next step was a hard decision but one that is necessary. I decided to take a leave of absence from seminary. I wrestled with it, had a few tantrums, and shed some tears. But I know it’s the right decision for me in this season. I’m weary and exhausted and no longer have the capacity to both work and go to school. I continue to pray this Lyme treatment leads to my physical healing. But until that happens, in order to create space for renewal, I need to step away to pray and make room for what God has in store for my life. Prayers appreciated. For real.
I don’t know what this year will bring or what lies on the other end of the semester. It’s hard to see through the current fog and I’m not naïve to think it’ll be a breeze. But in the midst of all the frustration and confusion, I choose to place my hope in the Lord and trust that renewal is on the horizon.
Do you have a word or theme for 2019? What’s your next step?