Being sick this entire week has forced me to slow down. I usually like being busy because it keeps me from thinking or feeling too much. My to do list is my shield – blocking out negativity. I’ve hidden behind it for years, but as I scrolled through Instagram and saw so many people reflecting on 2017, I couldn’t help but think about what’s happened in my life this year. As I started to do so, I realized God had been removing this shell piece by piece.
One of my favorite things about following Jesus is how amazing it is to look back over my life and see the changes He’s made – without me even noticing at the time.
In 2017, I…
celebrated one year of living in Utah,
went snowmobiling & mountain biking for the first time,
got a tattoo to honor my brother on his birthday,
went to my grandparent’s lake house for the first time in years and spent an incredible weekend with my family,
saw two of my best friends get engaged,
honored my brother on the anniversary of his death,
started a new job,
went on my dream vacation with my husband,
sang my first solo in front of hundreds of people at church,
witnessed my husband take the first step to following his dream,
spent my first Christmas in Utah, away from family.
In between all those events, my heart was changing. Without me realizing, God was unwrapping my bandaged, wounded heart. He was reminding me how many wonderful gifts He’s given me: my husband, my family, my friends.
He showed me I was worth more than I thought – in the guise of a new, better paying job. He made me feel safe again by blessing me with incredible friends who care for me and don’t let my tough exterior scare them away. He encouraged me to chase my dreams by making it possible for my husband to do so. He reminded me that my passions are important through a worship pastor who believed in me.
God’s hand truly was on everything I did and everything that happened to me this year. His kindness, patience, and abounding love is so evident. It may not be obvious in the moment, but looking back, I can acknowledge that everything did work out for my good, just like He said it would. (Romans 8:28)
A few nights ago, while Nick was picking up our friends from the airport and I was sick in bed, I was praying about 2018 and my vision for it. I started talking about the woman I want to be, all of the characteristics I desire – healthy or not – that I think make up a Godly woman.
A few examples: gets up early, takes care of the home, spends time with Jesus every day, is good at cooking, serves joyfully, is organized, gets the laundry done in one day, has nice clothes but isn’t superficial, is fit and healthy, is gentle in spirit, gives life to those who spend time with her, is encouraging, forgives well, communicates emotions well.
As I spoke all these characteristics aloud, I realized God had already been molding a few of these in me. Others are a little unrealistic and unhealthy expectations to have on myself. Originally, I said “works out a lot” but this changed to “is fit and healthy” because the goal to work out often enough is not a healthy goal. The goal to be fit and healthy is more than just working out. “Healthy” includes my spirit, my mind, and my body. So included in this goal is exercise, but also making time to read my Bible each day, take breaks from work to pray or close my eyes and gain perspective. In other words, health to me includes activity and rest. I need them both. If I’m constantly striving to work out a certain number of days a week, my focus will only be on that and I’ll forget to listen to my body when it begs for a break.
I believe all of the qualities I listed are valuable in a woman of God, but my biggest struggle is wanting to be more like other women, instead of wanting to be the best version of myself. So I wrote this prayer to repeat every day and remind myself that I am striving to be refined by God into the woman He created me to be:
Lord, I am dependent on you for all I need. Today, let me be at rest in your Spirit, aware of your grace and love for me in every moment. I pray that this day you’d make me a little more of the woman you created me to be. Amen.
Short and sweet – help me see that you’ve created me the way you wanted to. Help me seek HER – the woman you had in mind from the moment you wove me together in my mother’s womb – not another.
That is my biggest goal for 2018 – pray that prayer every single day and see the effects of it this time next year.
A few other 2018 goals:
- Try new things that scare me
- Organize paperwork in desk (it’s currently a mess under our bed)
- Keep dresser clean (the catch-all area in our house)
- Do Kayla Itsine’s BBG workout plan from start to finish
- Follow through on tasks and choose to not be lazy
- Be gentle to everyone
- Be more spontaneous
- Give back more – volunteering time, giving money, etc.
A few to be more organized, a few characteristics I want to foster in myself, and a few for the service of others.
God gave me & Nick so many good things in 2017. I learned about myself, my true heart, not the one this sinful world shaped in me.
I encourage you, on this first day of 2018, to look back on the last year and see what God has done in both your life and your heart. Acknowledge the changes He’s made and the trials He brought you through. Thank Him for always being there – because He is. And pray for the coming year – that it would mold you that much more into the person He made you to be.
Happy New Year, friends.