Friday, January 5, 2018

The thrill of hope

Two thousand seventeen was most definitely a Growth Year (okay fine, and so was 2016). We found ourselves being stretched in unexpected ways. As a family, we were presented with multiple new diagnoses, some expected and others, less so. Although it felt good to have answers, on other days, these diagnoses felt like labels, overwhelming and painful to swallow. We passed a lot of hours at appointments of all kinds, seeking wholeness and wellness mentally, physically and spiritually for all our members. It was trying, and I shed my fair share of tears. The journey is far from over, but I know we are all the better for it. Even though 2017 felt brutal, I hope 2018 is a Growth Year as well. I for one am praying for gentler growth in 2018 (no more growth spurts though, pretty please!), but I do want to continue to be stretched. It’s been amid all this growing that I’ve felt the nearness of my Savior like never before.

Through the encouragement of some wise friends, I have adopted the tradition of choosing a word as my theme for each year. More than anything, the word becomes my prayer over what I hope the year will hold for me. As one year comes to a close, I begin to ponder my word for the year that will follow. Last year, I chose the word “free”

What began as a year of letting go transitioned slowly into a year of releasing and I believe there is an important differentiation between the two. Letting go can occur against one’s will. An object might be torn from one’s grasp or one might fall and be forced to let go of the precipice that previously served as a support. But releasing, it’s an active choice. It involves conscious surrender. The dictionary says it means to allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free. That sounds like a pretty accurate description of 2017 to me. There was a lot of work put toward releasing concern over what people thought of me. Releasing insecurities. Releasing a past version of myself that had threads of shame and guilt woven throughout. Releasing achievable expectations. This leaning in toward freedom even required releasing some of my dreams. Or at least making peace with where I am currently in the process of pursuing them.

Most of the time it felt like “All pain, no gain,” rather than the other way around. I would peer closely, looking for that flickering pilot light of hope, the tiny little flame that told me one day things wouldn’t be this hard. It grew dim on countless occasions. I lost sight of it completely a few times. I didn’t feel much progress and I worried those around me would tire of me asking for their very-necessary support. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t! I have some truly amazing people in my life who have helped carry me).

But praise God for the tremendous ways He has been at work. He continues to meet me in my dark places and remind me of his presence time after time after time. I no longer find myself on knees, flashlight in hand, searching desperately for that pilot light. I know it is there, some days dimmer than others, but there nonetheless. There is much hard work still ahead, but my word for this year is


“….we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, HOPE; and HOPE does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

This past year was all about loosening my grip on that which I was clinging to. It was all about ripping off the bandaid covering some pretty deep wounds. But 2018? I have HOPE that it will be a year of healing. I find myself profoundly grateful for this hard and crazy journey because it brought me to a place where I can I say and actually mean it “He’s a good, good Father.” His provision is perfect. And at times so totally unexpected in it’s timing and presentation.

So in 2018, I’m holding fast to the one true source of HOPE I have and the promise that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). I know the days ahead will be wrought with challenges, but I am beginning this new year hemmed in by the nearness of my Savior (Psalm 139:5).     

Happy New Year!

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posted by kelsie