As we are about to embark on a new year, it's time to take stock of what was, what is, and what is to come. The tradition of choosing a word for the year is an anchor of sorts, to check in on a big picture goal. With prayer, some years I have picked my word, and some years it picked me. I've focused on peace, believe, play, and expectant to name a few.
This past year God whispered rest to me and I argued. I didn't like that word much. It wasn't what I wanted. But as it turned out, it was what I needed.
God has a funny way of knowing what's best, and I believe sometimes a sense of humor in how he reminds us. This year included a torn plantar fascia that literally had me laid up with a boot for nine weeks. Parents with hospital stays that needed me to stop and be by their bedside. The aftermath of divorce, though the worst had passed, the body has a way of shutting down once it's safe. My autoimmune disease flared big and ugly leaving me with no choice but to rest.
The body needs sleep to heal in the same way, the soul needs rest to restore. While I find I struggle with not being productive, I've learned God has reason for asking us to surrender every last idol we are holding onto. And my identity as a 'producer' both literally and figuratively needed to be laid to rest.
In this time of quiet God led me to this scripture that so deeply resonated in me, I could not help but let my hands give birth to this 'grow girl.'
Can you really think upon this love that is so deep and strong and everlasting. That Christ would make his home in your heart, as you trust in him. As you trust in Him! Your roots will grow down into His love and keep you strong.
For a girl who felt so physically weakened I knew I just had to trust. This season of quiet was showing me how to let Him love me. How to be still. How to let my roots grow so intertwined with Him that my foundation could not be shaken.
And as I appeared to be still, just like the barren tree, there was a quiet work beneath the surface that has been waiting for its time to bring forth a new season, a new life.
I don't say this with over confidence in me. I say it with a great confidence in our Lord. My part is that I will keep seeking, learning, chipping away at the lies, and doing the next thing He asks me to do.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned is in becoming aware of how much wrong thinking has been placed upon me, and that I place upon myself. The lies they become the norm until you don't even realize they're your 'go to' response. How many times I wake to feel I'm already behind, or say I should have, or can not. I needed to learn how to give myself grace.
Unrealistic expectations and impossible goals with to-do lists that can never be met. When He says I'm already ahead, I'm already enough, there are no should haves. It takes hard work to reprogram 'go to' thinking. Thankfully as I seek the Lord He teaches ever so gently and has placed someone in my life who has helped me catch myself when I don't even realize the words have left my mouth.
My lesson for 2017 is in growing ever stronger in His love to stand even more firmly in who He says I am. The scriptures and messages that keep repeating from different sources are about radiance. And again I say to God this year, "I'm not sure about that word. Radiant? It sounds too confident." You see my nature is more about not wanting attention, not wanting to stand out. And to radiate sounds so bold, so look at me. And He whispers back, "That's exactly why this word is where your work needs to be."
And I find myself in that squirmy place. That beyond my comfort zone spot. And I say, "Ok. I get it God. This is always where you want us." Because we can't be comfortable and courageous.
So RADIANT it is. Because I believe I struggle with knowing He calls me radiant. If I were to think of one of my daughters feeling this way it would break my heart. And I believe it breaks God's heart when his precious daughters don't realize who He says we are. Perhaps you need to believe you are radiant too. Just for who you are right now. Not for anything you have done or will do or become.
It says in Philippians that we will radiate like the stars in the sky. And the truth is, it is His light shining from us. And the boldness we get to have is in sharing the source of this radiance. I just see it as this letting go of hindrances that keep our light covered. Lies and fears that hold us back from the God given mission he has placed in each of our lives.
Someone said of me recently, "The theme of your life through the many years has been that you show up scared and you do it anyway." And so this next year I will be doing it anyway. A lot of unknowns. But the best known is that I'm not alone, and truly I do not need to fear. My roots have grown down into His love and He keeps me strong. So here's to being our fearless, radiant selves. I may need a pep talk here and there. And that's ok. I'll be here if you need one too.
"Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy" -Psalm 34:5
Jackie is a single mom to three now all in the teen and tween years, and she's learning to love this new season with them.
Creating art has always been a cathartic healing part of Jackie's life. In the aftermath of her first awareness of infidelity she felt God nudging her to create scripture art and that is how willowofwonder.etsy.com was born.
Jackie's marriage did not survive after many years of marriage crisis, yet out of it all, she can say that she knows her relationship with Christ has deepened to a level it would not have without the trials. She has learned to receive His unconditional love, and what it truly means to have the joy of the Lord as her strength.
A Playlist for Perseverance
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