I have always loved January because of the fresh start it is. I adore a good planner, new spiral notebook, set of pens and the whole year ahead just waiting to be lived out.
Not this year. Nothing special, nothing to look forward to, a heaviness hanging around like the weight gained from the last weeks of 2019. Just meh. I did not have a lightheartedness about the new year as usual. I did not have any big ideas or thoughts or goals. I even pawned off the duty of picking a word for 2020 to Nick. Of course when I let him pick, he always picks something that I would never pick.
Together is our word this year. Seems simple enough. Seemed kind of annoying to me because of course we do things together. We are married, we are raising two girls, we are on the same worship team, in the same activities. I mean, our jobs are different, but in so many areas of our life we are ALREADY TOGETHER DEAR. Why do we need to focus on together, this year, I thought.
You see 2019 was a rough one. I think for many people it was a rough one. I walked through more turbulence in my life than I have since 2012-2013. To take a quick walk down memory lane, 2019 started on a great note! We were trucking through January and then at the beginning of February I got the flu. It was the sickest I have ever been, since being a child, that I can remember. It was awful and miserable. I was off the stage for over a month, missed out on leading at D Now that month, had to learn a LOT about humility and leaning on others. During that time of illness I also experienced an extremely big anxiety attack. I had never known myself to deal with anxiety before and had never scared myself so much as I did that day. A culmination of things spiraled me out of control and I found myself having to be held tight by Nick while breathing deep and calming down. I immediately decided that after 6 years of walking through grief I would seek counseling. I started in March of 2019 and through the year found myself going every other week. For most of the last year I have been going regularly because I have realized that it is a form of common grace for me. I walked through a lot of doubt, sadness, isolation (self induced because I was so fragile), I remember figuring no one wanted me around so I just dismissed myself from certain friend events, etc I began to feel extremely paranoid and over sensitive in many contexts. I had many other things happen throughout the course of the year that only proved my mistrust and doubt in people. This is all while leading worship, leading a team, leading a life group, and doing all the mom things, etc. Life looks one way and in reality is another way.
Hurt people, hurt people. It is a commonly used phrase, but it is true. I’ve been that person many times in my life. I’ve inflicted and I’ve endured.
By the end of 2019 I found myself the heaviest I’ve ever felt, the most overwhelmed; ready to quit everything and start over. I wanted out of every single commitment, group, ministry, relationship (except my marriage), etc. Everything seemed pointless, I was tired of being tired, tired of serving and giving and trying. Tired of being misunderstood, I decided that something had to change.
So, here we are, back at the word, TOGETHER. I realized that yes, Nick and I would together change some habits, but what I’ve learned over the course of this month is, together meant
Jesus and I.
I know, it seems so simple. It’s not though.
I’ve had to make some choices to reign in my thoughts, my opinions, my assumptions, the ways I respond or react, the direction I look and the way I treat myself and others. It can seem impossible to do, but it isn’t. It is extremely difficult at times, but it has been worth it. The only way these things are possible, Jesus. It truly takes me talking to him in these moments where I would have used to gone straight to texting my friend, complaining to Nick or scrolling the inter-webs in search of consoling. We make choices every day. In fact, we make so many choices we don’t even realize it. All of a sudden, we’ve become a person who is negative, snippy, crabby even, always assuming and consistently paranoid. Christ is calling us to a life where we aren’t immediately thrown into a frenzy. We can live in such a way, that we are intentional about our thoughts, responses and decisions.
This is so hard, but TOGETHER, I believe it is possible. Together with Jesus and together with community.
So, together, Jesus and I, Nick and I, myself and I are finding new rhythms to our life that are life giving, sustaining and healthy. It is a journey, it takes lots of intention and lots of trust. So far this journey has required me to surrender a lot of bad habits pertaining to food and drinks. This decision to live honestly and truly together with Christ has meant that I have had to sacrifice some stuff, make choices that seem dull or less fun than the alternative. What I have noticed about it all, though, is that even though it’s hard, it’s worth it. It is hard to deny myself any vice, such as a vanilla latte or a cold Dr. Pepper. It is almost sad how much I miss those things. It is also sad how much I depended on them for “happiness” or to “de-stress”. It is hard to not watch a show I love for a week at a time because the need for sleep is far greater than the need to binge watch. The desire to go straight to Nick, via text message, in the middle of the afternoon over an issue neither of us can fix or handle in the moment, is REAL. Denying myself that outlet and going straight to prayer is not instinctual. It is the opposite. I am having to retrain my heart and mind to go to Jesus first. Did I get my feelings hurt by a comment or a circumstance? Take it to Jesus. Bypass the best friend, the phone, the soda or whatever vice you desire. Going to my actual source has been unnatural, SADLY, but it has been immediate the difference.
I’m finding the heart of my life again. I’m finding it in rhythms, habits, disciplines, simplicity, margin, conscious decision making, sleep patterns, pausing, being aware of my body, my mind, my people. I am slowly starting to see how so many different scriptures come to life in my own life, now that I am actually applying them. This is a slow process, a long journey and a really new way of living for me.
Here’s to 2020. I have no idea what is ahead. I have no clue what is around the next corner. I do know that I have a solid rock I can lean on and a refuge I can retreat to and a savior who has done it all to have me close. I refuse to worry myself sick over things I do not know.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
— Charles Spurgeon
Cheers, friends! Let’s do this life thing, together.