It’s the week for New Years Resolutions, and yes I do mean week, because it takes me that long to figure out what my resolution for the year will actually be. I’m not the hugest fan of making resolutions, mainly because I’ve failed at them so many times that I often don’t think it’s worth it to make them anymore. But, this year, the ladies that I lead a small group of freshman girls with at church have inspired me to pick a word to live by this year, not a resolution, and that seems so much more manageable to me.
This is a trend that I’ve discovered recently – mainly due to new friends at CMC – but I guess it’s quite a big thing across the country. I’ve found things about it online all the way back to 2006, so maybe I’m just late to the party. But the idea is this: instead of picking a resolution of something you want to do during the year (lose weight, eat better, drink more water, etc.), you pick a word that you want to live into for the year, almost like picking a theme that you want to carry over into all aspects of your life. It also is worth doing at the end of the year – picking a word to sum up the last year of your life and seeing how the words from the beginning and the end of the year match up. So, keep an eye on that blog post coming in December 2017! But, since it is January, a word for the new year:
My word for 2017 is: Reassurance.
This may seem a strange choice, but it is a word that I need this year in so many ways. For myself, this word reminds me of a Scripture that I hold near and dear to my heart, Isaiah 43:2, which says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”. There are many reasons why I love this verse, but I mainly love the reassurance that it provides to my anxious heart. No matter what I’m facing, no matter what this new year brings, the promise of this verse does not change. Whether it’s a wave of anxiety, the flood of January programming season, or the fire of stress, the God that made me this promise does not change. And in the midst of an always changing world, that is the best reassurance that I could ever ask for.
This word also reminds me of my past, because reassurance is what I stood in need of most as a teenager and a college student. Many of you who read this know my backstory and the things that happened during those years, and you know that they were not the easiest of times. Now, looking back on those times and the ministry that I do with children and youth, the biggest thing that I wish I would have had back then was reassurance. I wish that I would have taken the words of Scripture and of my friends and family to heart, realizing that “you’re going to be okay” was more than just a line being thrown at me to make me feel better. I needed to tell myself that things were going to work out, and then actually believe it – because things are okay and good now, and I think that part of me always knew that they would be. I just needed the reassurance that things would be okay.
One of my favorite quotes is an encouragement for all of the things that I do in my ministry work and in life in general. There are many variations of it but the point is: “Be the person that you needed when you were younger”. When I was a kid, I needed reassurance that I was learning and growing and doing things right, because most of the time I had no idea what I was doing. In junior high and high school, I needed reassurance that my struggles wouldn’t be the end of me, that things would turn out okay in the end. In college, I needed reassurance that I did have gifts and talents, that getting married young wasn’t a bad thing, and that God’s plan for me would be perfect in His time. Now, as a young pastor and youth group leader and friend and wife, I need constant reassurance that God is still planning and guiding my life and that it’s okay to try new things and go with the flow. It’s a changing and crazy life, but reassurance gets me through it all.
If you haven’t made a resolution for 2017 yet, I encourage you to pick a word. What are you striving for this year – and, almost more importantly, what are you striving to bring to those around you this year? For me, I want to be the reassurance for those around me that I needed when I was in their shoes. And, for 2017, I want to focus more on the reassurance that God has given me – it never changes, even when everything else is.