2017 | ABIDE
If I'm being honest, I think 2017 is going to be one of the hardest years for me yet. All accusations of pessimism aside, I really believe I'm being realistic when I say that. Though the past several years up until now have definitely been challenging (and also growing) in their own right, I think this year will be especially trying because it plays to one of the areas where I need the most refinement in my opinion.
The past couple years, I've had a set of words or a phrase that I decided, or perhaps discovered, would go on to shape and define that year. In 2015, my phrase was Change & Balance. Between coming out publicly for the first time, living away from home for 6 months, including the 4 months I was all the way across the Atlantic in Spain, and everything else that transpired that year, I fought to find balance amidst all the change, and arguably turmoil that encompassed that year. New relationships were formed and some old ones dissolved as I found more of myself and more of God than I ever had before. In all sincerity, it was an exhausting year trying to find that happy medium.
2015 | CHANGE & BALANCE
2016 | BRAND NEW
In 2016, having just gotten back from Spain and facing my last semester of college in the spring, my phrase was Brand New, partially inspired by the new Ben Rector album that had just come out at the time and that I had obsessively listened to. Having had a long 6 month incubation period after having come out and having lived abroad, I felt like I was seeing life with new eyes, and, I also knew there was a lot of newness and uncertainty that would be awaiting me after graduation. Going into summer aimless and then starting a full time job God practically dropped in my lap at the end of August only served to reinforce the idea that everything I was experiencing was completely brand new.
As the last few days of 2016 wound down, the obsessive compulsive part of me wanted to have my new word and theme nailed down for this year, but though I had thought about it almost feverishly for almost a month, I still couldn't come up with something adequate. And maybe that's because it doesn't quite feel like 2017 is an entirely new chapter. I guess for me, 2017 feels a little like a continuation of everything that started in 2016 with all the newness bombarding me from every direction, sort of like how it feels a little like a new season, but not quite when a show comes back from a mid-season finale. Maybe that's why I couldn't find a new word for this year until now.
If you take a look at the top of this post, you'll see that the word I've chosen (or perhaps the word that God gave to me) for 2017 is Abide. This word seems to encapsulate the subtle transition to a new calendar year while also maintaining that same sense of continuity from 2016 that I feel so strongly in this season of life. More so than just lingering, abiding takes on the nuance of making an active choice to stay, really capturing the calling I've felt over this year to remain, persevere, and dwell in all the places where God has called me over the last few months of 2016.
Over this past summer, God spoke to me, telling me I wasn't supposed to go to grad school for linguistics like I had originally planned and thought I was going to do for the past two years. Being the planner I am, having that structure and stability torn out from underneath me was rattling, and I spent most of the summer arguing with God and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do now that I was graduated and all my plans were gone.
Along that path, he brought me to the K-12 school where I currently work almost begrudgingly. Though I enjoy it now and I'm thankful that I'm here for this stage of life, I remember thinking that I only took the job because I needed something to start paying for my student loans when the fall rolled around and that I would jump ship and move somewhere else as soon as the opportunity arose. Well, it just seems like this job and this school is another place where God has been telling me to abide for at least the rest of this school year.
And then there's all the relationships I've formed over the course of my 4 years in college as well as my sort of re-entrance to the church scene through Rise Up, the house church/Bible study mix that I started going to at the beginning of last summer. Throughout all of these relationships, places, and ministries, it seems like the overarching theme God has continued to repeat to me is: Stay here. It's worth it. You'll see.
STAY HERE. IT'S WORTH IT. YOU'LL SEE.
THESE WORDS HAVE BEEN GOD'S PROMISE THROUGH IT ALL.
In many of these situations, I've wanted to give up. I've wanted to drop relationships before I got dropped. I wanted to bail out of Rise Up before I got too "entangled" in something like church again. And maybe that's a weakness of mine I'm just growing more cognizant of now, but every time a certain relationship has gotten hard, or especially when a church-like environment has gotten hard, my first instinct has been to run because of all the times I've been hurt, abandoned, and thrown away before.
But the more I meditate on this new year and this new theme, along with my words for the past few years, I'm starting to really believe that maybe this is all part of God's overarching theme of healing for the past several years. And maybe Abide is how He's going to start teaching me to trust again, which is ironically one of the other words I had initially thought of for this year's word.
Life is messy. People and circumstances are messy. And things will get hard, just like Jesus promised us in John 16:33, but He also promised that He has already overcome. And I guess that's where learning to abide comes in, abiding in the relationships we've chosen, abiding in the places and jobs we've been led to, and abiding in all the promises God has spoken to us, even when, in the moment, it doesn't seem to be getting any closer to being fulfilled. But I guess if we've learned anything, it's that God always keeps His promises, giving us a safe place to abide.
What kinds of resolutions and themes do you all see your 2017's holding? And what kinds of lessons have you learned in 2016 than you'll be bringing into this year? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below!
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