It seems as though it’s becoming popular to claim a “word” for the new year rather than a resolution. I get it.
There have been some years where I was certain that a word cycled intentionally through my soul from Jesus Himself. I would encounter it in music and feel that stirring in my soul. I would read it in scripture and sense God’s presence and take note. It would be the theme of a women’s retreat or a conference or a sermon series and it was as if it was chasing me down over and over again. So I tried to pay attention and learn whatever He wanted to teach me in that season of life. Looking back now it makes perfect sense.
The year that we set out to adopt Grace the word very clearly was “carry” or “carried”. I’ve been a follower of Jesus since my childhood but I cannot remember ever coming across Isaiah 46:3-4 – and if I did, it didn’t hit me like it hit me two years ago, and boy did I need to be hit with it: “Listen to me, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
In that particular season of life I needed to hear from God over and over again that He would carry me. I needed assurance that He would carry us as we moved forward step by step to adopt Grace. I relied on Him in a new way in this season of life and the picture of Him carrying us over and over again brought peace during a time when there was so much uncertainty, change, and potential for fear. He carried us and I believe He intentionally made it obvious to me in His word and in a hundred different ways that He set us on this path and once we said “I will” to what He asked us to do – He did the work.
He carried us.
The following year I did an online bible/book study on the book, Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Again, I wondered how I had been a follower of Jesus for decades and not come across something so powerful.
This book is deep, it’s thought provoking, and it’s challenging. It challenged me to ask myself again and again whether or not I really believe that God is who He says He is. Does what I say I believe manifest itself in how I respond, how I pray, how I live, how I trust? So that year “believe” became a challenge for me. It was no coincidence, I’m sure, that one followed the other because the themes of those years prepared me for the journey to Grace and the new normal that would be created with her in our family.
I knew that if I didn’t really believe in God’s power and in His ultimate sovereignty I was a goner. I was dead in the water. I clung on to the belief that the circumstances that occurred to bring us to Grace and make her ours were miraculous. I believe that adoption is the best solution to an earthly problem. I don’t believe God designed families to be broken but since that happens here on planet earth – adoption is a redemptive, beautiful, messy solution to bring healing and restoration both to those who adopt and to those who are adopted. I believe that Grace’s birth parents placed her sick little newborn self in a public place with the hope that she would be found and given a better chance. Once that was done – I believe as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, that God moved in ways only God can to bring us together. It is a story that still causes me to get goosebumps and tear up and I remain amazed that she is ours. Therefore, if I believe that – and I do, then I have to believe that He will equip me to not just be a good mother to her – but He will equip me to be her mother. He will equip me to be the mother she needs, whatever that means – not just through the surgeries, medical drama, and the marathon of attachment and healing – but through it all.
Last year I honestly don’t remember if there was a word, but if I had to look back and pick one now it would be “worn”. It was one of those years, one of those seasons of life that just takes a toll on you and it was unexpected. It’s easy to remember that God carries us when we are acutely aware of ourdesperate need to be carried. When things settle down though, and the journey is different or less dramatic – it’s easy to fall for the illusion that we don’t really need to be carried as much as we once were.
The problem is, when I lose sight of who is carrying us all I start to assume it’s my job. I start to take back things I’ve left at the feet of Jesus and before too long I get worn out. Many times this last year I had to remind myself that He carries me – He carries us. I am challenging myself that if I believe that nothing is impossible with God and that He goes before us – then my actions and reactions should still reflect what I believe even with new normal settling in. Perhaps you can relate. It’s tricky though when life is so busy you can barely catch your breath.
Having a toddler again after 10 years is a game changer. It is an advantage to have parented two former toddlers who are now in the throws of teenager-hood because I know this precious stage doesn’t last as long as it seems. Toddler years seem never-ending but we all know they will end. The days when Grace wakes up and comes in our bed to snuggle with her knees and feet and elbows – will end. The days when she holds my face in her little hands and says “I love you Mama!!” and squeezes my neck so tight that I know she means it – those days will slip away. The times when she throw tantrums over things she can’t even remember moments later – will end. The days when it’s her will vs. my will because she insists on doing every.thing.herself from sun up to sun down, will pass. The times when she is completely undone and goes limp when I go to pick her up – are numbered (thank Jesus). The days of wanting to crawl up in my lap saying “mama up please” and be rocked and held and carried don’t last.
Somewhere in there is a lesson…
For this new year I’m choosing to refocus on the truth that God makes all things new – even me. (Isaiah 43:19). I am not consumed because His compassion never fails and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21). His faithfulness and love endures forever (Psalm 100:5). He gives strength to the weary and power to the weak (Isaiah 40:29). He puts a new song in my mouth (Psalm 40:3) and He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3). As I thought about a word to focus on for this new year I couldn’t decide on just one, so this year I might have two words and be extra diligent to make up for last year.
Rest. Rest would be one and would cover all areas of physical rest, emotional rest, and spiritual rest. I need to re-learn how to just rest. As moms I feel like we forget how to really rest. I can’t even watch a movie with my family without being on my phone or laptop and multitasking to make the best use of the time. I’ve almost forgotten how to rest my body and treat it well; and I need to remember quickly because I’m my best self when I do. I need to rest from worrying about that which I cannot control. Honestly, I can’t rest well at all, unless spiritually I find rest in God alone. There is no peace for me without Him. There is no joy for me without Him. I won’t have physical rest if I’m emotionally worn because I’m not allowing my Heavenly Father to carry me and my burdens and my baggage and my worries. It’s all linked.
Release. We’ve watched Frozen a lot in our house. Let It Go was written for moms everywhere. Releasing things that are important to me is not my default setting. Releasing my children is tough. Our oldest child is days away from being a licensed driver…Lord have mercy. Releasing my “what if’s” that don’t matter and may never come to life, takes real effort. There is no hope for rest – if I won’t also release. I need to release all the things that are not mine to hold and live life with open hands. The struggle is real, yo. The struggle is real.
We are encouraged in scripture to cast our anxiety, our cares, and our burdens on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 4:7). Even when we hang on to them (because we aren’t so good at the casting part) He will just pick us up with all of the things we carry. He will carry all of it. Sometimes even grown ups just need to be carried and held for a while. Sometimes once we get worn enough from insisting we can do it all ourselves, we too should go limp like a willful toddler and find rest in His almighty arms. He is waiting to carry us and all of the things that we aren’t meant to carry.