At the beginning of each year, I choose a word for the year and a corresponding verse. It helps me connect with my faith to look back at the year I just had and come up with a mantra for the new one. I’m so excited about 2019’s word, but each and every word I’ve had over the years still holds a special place in my heart.
For more than a couple years, my word was “hope.” I lived without it for so many years that I needed to continuously pray I would find it again.
Then, my word became “strength.” I was going into almost two years of a painful, complicated weight restoration. I didn’t know it yet, but it would be the year I spent 14 weeks in the hospital. My verse was Psalm 119:28. It says, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word.” I was still so hopeless, but I was also feeling a lot of negative emotions. For a long time, my depression left me very numb, and the few emotions I could feel were negative. When my word was “strength,” I felt those awful, horrible emotions all of the time. I was tired of fighting to stay alive. I was distraught that I had spent so many years trying to get back to a healthy weight. I was broken. I begged that spending time with Him and in His word would give me strength. By His grace, I have made it through.
The next year, I had a phrase instead of a word. I wanted to focus on “moving on from the past.” While I am so thankful that my hospital stay saved my life, it left me with a lot of trauma I hadn’t anticipated. My verse was Isaiah 43:18, which says, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” I wanted to be able to let go of all of the pain that I kept reliving and have faith that the new year would be better. I wasn’t able to embrace this verse as much as I would have loved to, but I am making slow and steady progress, which is an achievement. I can never escape from my past hurts, and I would never want to, but I can work on not letting them keep me from living in the present and having hope in the future. I wholeheartedly believe that there is a purpose for each and every thing I have been through, even the events I haven’t seen a reason for quite yet. I pray that I can continue to use my experiences to help others and bring glory to God, and I’m so thankful that He has brought me to where I am today.
This year, my word is “expectant,” and my verse is Psalm 5:3. It says, “In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.” I wasn’t always excited for 2019. Even as late as the fall of 2018, I was having a lot of passive suicidal thoughts. I have a list of things I am excited for in the future, and for about a year I have usually been able to receive some hope of better days by running through the list when things are difficult. This fall, I felt nothing as I imagined a bright future. I had no doubt that I would reach that place one day, but I really didn’t care enough to stay around to reach it. I was very apathetic. As the year reached its end, though, I began to feel excitement. It started to feel more real that I have been accepted to my dream school. I finished all of my high school requirements and found out I am only six hours away from finishing my associate’s degree. I started to be able to feel excitement for all of the things I want out of my future.
2019 will be a year of change. My family will be moving to a new town in the spring or summer. I will be starting a new school in August. And even though all of these changes are scary, they’re also exciting. I am so thankful that I started feeling such excitement about 2019, even if there was also fear. I began to feel a peace and assuredness I have never experienced. I felt this reassurance, almost a promise, that important things would be happening this year. I felt confident that a lot of my prayers would be answered.
When I now look at my list of things I have been praying about for years, I feel like they are close to being answered. It’s a scary thought, because I worry about getting my hopes up for the outcomes I desire. But I know that whatever happens is the best possible solution. I love this quote by Timothy Keller that says, “God will either give us what we ask for in prayer or give us what we would have asked for if we knew everything he knows.” I’m praying for the outcomes I desire, but I’m also praying that His will be done. I’m expecting beautiful outcomes, whether they are what I expected or not.
I also want to work on praying more this year. I want to grow my faith more in 2019 than I could ever imagine at this point in time, and I think that this verse also captures that desire. So far, in twelve short days, I have felt the Lord’s presence with me and have prayed more than I have in a while. I’ve already seen blessings in the first days of this new year, and I have faith that 2019 will be filled with many more.