I don’t necessarily like New Year’s resolutions, mostly because I think the growing process and the urge to better ourselves is a constant, always-changing process that requires focus, attention, and discipline more than just one time each year. The calendar changes once a year, but that doesn’t mean that our internal forces only shift once a year. I can remember some definitive moments when my heart or my mind have been transformed. I find myself feeling like the wind; a slight change in my inner compass changes my path in life, and I’m suddenly agreeing with something I never thought I would or taking a liking to an idea I’d promised never to consider..
However, there is one “resolution” I made last year and am continuing this year. There is a site called ‘myoneword.org’. Many church circles and non-church circles alike are using this idea in place of resolutions. The idea is simple – choose one word for the new year that defines something you want to change, something you want to experience, or a word that will transform your relationship with God. Last year, I chose the word (a phrase, really) “godly spirit.” I come from a past of unfortunate losses, negativity, pain, and battle scars. It is so easy for me to worry, fear, and become anxious about my circumstances that I find myself in that place without even noticing. So, last year I really wanted to experience the “peace that passes all understanding.” I wanted to be generous and loving without hidden agendas. I wanted to really know patience and grace.
In 2013, my “first pet” died in a horrific dog park attack. I watched the entire thing and continue to replay those moments in my head. It was like the cloak was removed and hell came to visit my world for those horrifying 4 ½ minutes. I say “first pet” because she was just the first dog I owned all by myself. I got her for my 18th birthday and high school graduation and she traveled with me, moved into my first apartment with me, sat beside me when I cried in depression, and leapt for joy with me when life was blissful. She was my little companion and nothing hurt so bad as the day I lost her.
Also in 2013, my husband and I tried to start a family (2 legged) with no avail. We bought our first home, we shared a few fights, and we survived another year of marriage. Actually, this second year of marriage, in 2013, we thrived a little more in marriage. (The first year was unexpectedly difficult, and my negative self handled that very poorly). In all, 2013 was like every other year. We had bumps and bruises, and great memories with laughter and hope. However, even in those bad times, even when Phoebe died, I found I was growing deeper into a person who had immovable faith. I more openly extended grace and forgiveness, and I was more often peaceful and hopeful. My “one word” was seeping into many areas of my life.
This year I decided my one word should be “trust.” Last year, in the midst of my growing, I still held tight to those things I thought I could control. I don’t understand it, really, but we humans like our control. We like things that we think we can handle—things that are less unpredictable and more moldable. I thought I had control over my 7 pound puppy, control over my body and pregnancy, and control over a lot of things in my life. Perhaps one of the scariest things to me last year was seeing how little control I have in this life.
I’m also turning 26 this year, in just a few days. At the beginning of the year, I received a list of all the books that will turn into movies this year. The book Wild by Sheryl Strayed was one of them. Sheryl was 26 when she decided to solo hike the Pacific Coast Trail. Her mother had died and her marriage had ended. She stumbled across this idea to take 100 days and journey across an unknown terrain, trusting in her own abilities—physical, emotional, and spiritual abilities.
I just liked the idea of another 26 year old woman journeying into the unknown, trusting that she could endure. I also liked the thought of a person willing to try something new, simply to be better. So far, I’m enjoying the tale. Sheryl is 100% human—no super woman here—who cursed in frustration, cried in desperation, and struggled to find hope or light in the circumstances of life.
Each new year, any given week or day, is an unknown journey with God. With our lack of control, we become completely dependent on God. In fact, He asks us to do so. Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me,” John 14:1 (NLT). God doesn’t push us in the deep end and say, “good luck!” God says, “I know you can’t do this alone, so trust in Me.” This struggle, though, isn’t new. Our struggle for control and dependency has been raging through humankind since the beginning. Even the Israelites fought for control and feared the unknown journey;
The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deuteronomy 1:30-33.
Regardless of what your calendar says, each day is a new journey and, typically, an unknown one. Whether you are a 60 year old male, a 26 year old female, or a family or tribe, the journey is daunting. Trusting in God is our only hope, but it’s a good one.
This year, what will you learn? What will you learn about yourself, your strength, your God? How will your life be transformed by the goals and journey set before you? All you have to do is look through a few news articles and you’ll see an inspiring story. Maybe it’s the man who cut off his own arm to survive. Maybe it’s a fireman who saved a young child from the flames. Maybe it’s a random citizen who helped out a mother in need. We are destined for greatness and our days are not numbered simply by the dates of a calendar. Follow God on the journey He has set before you, so you can do great things for Him, and don’t be afraid to lose control but grow to trust more deeply in the One who makes you capable.