New Year’s Resolutions.
That phrase seriously makes me cringe. When I hear it, I usually think of health or fitness-related goals that end up tossed to the wayside by March. I also think of the years I spent setting goals and pursuing them in search of perfection, rather than trusting The Lord or letting His will be done.
So last year I settled on a new tactic. Rather than set goals to somehow better myself, I adopted a different way to take on the new year. I chose a word that I held close and prayed about for twelve months.
I wrote about having freedom to not have my life completely figured out:
“... when I see how much God has moved and shaken my life in the last three years, I get excited. If He can do all that He has done in such sweet and unexpected ways during this time, I cannot wait to see all He will do in the next three years. I have freedom to not plan everything or have it all figured out.
I have freedom to trust Him, even when it is hard.
That's the sentiment I want to carry with me into the new year. I hope true freedom will permeate my life in 2016—freedom to know I am right where I am supposed to be.”
Well God totally showed up.
I think, in so many ways, freedom did permeate my life in 2016. I felt free from things I’d previously been enslaved to—free from the yokes of perfection and approval. Free from my own control. In 2017, I’ll continue to pray for freedom and restoration. I can now truthfully say full freedom rests in Him alone.
Praying and thinking about freedom as much as I did helped bring it to light in my life.
A move to Nashville! A communications and ministry job! A relationship founded in Christ! The words we use to make requests to God have power. And that’s why I’ve spent the past week journaling about my word for 2017.
To help me do so, I’ve been following along with Lara Casey’s goal-setting series on her blog. Girlfriend is amazing. I recently discovered her blog and ministry, and I am so very encouraged by the way she lives out her faith through her work. It turns out she, too, believes in picking a word for the year ahead. She talks a lot about living on purpose rather than chasing perfect. That idea could not resonate more with me.
Armed with Lara's advice, I’ve looked at the challenges from this past year, as well as the blessings and the lessons I’ve learned. Where do I hope to be in the year ahead? How do I want to grow? What do I need to say yes to—and what to do I need to say no to?
Lara suggests looking for themes in the midst of all this journaling. Jot down some possible words of the year and take time to pray about the word God has actually laid on your heart.
I did just that, and I kept seeing themes of growth and depth. Nature was a common thread. Stillness, quiet, and peacefulness were all on the page.
Yet none of those words seemed quite right. I knew God would impress the right word upon my heart.
It only took a few days. I wrote down a few prayers earlier this week, and the word flowed out.
“God, I pray for depth this year. Fewer commitments, fewer things, and greater focus on you. Help me to grow deep rather than wide. You will guide me. I pray I listen and obey. Strengthen my relationship because we’re both going deeper with you. Help me to do good work at my job and on my blog because I am growing deeper in you. Let all I do be an outpouring of that depth; let it continually point back to you. I pray for deeper health, healing, courage, and freedom. Let the roots grow deep, Lord.
Rooted in you, watered daily with Scripture and prayer so that I may grow and blossom. Rooted in you, Father.”
That’s my word. My goal and focus for 2017. I want all that I do to be rooted in Him.
A seed is planted, and its roots slowly settle in. With water, sunlight, and proper care, the roots will grow deep. The seed will spring up into a plant and grow stronger, blossoming and flourishing in the way it was created to be all along.
Like a plant, when we’re rooted in Christ and live for Him, we, too, will grow stronger and flourish into who He has designed us to be.
My biggest desire for this year ahead is to stand firmly rooted in Him and to walk with Him. Growing deeply in Jesus is the first step; everything else follows suit. We can hope and dream, trusting that our Father is in control, leading us no matter what, and working all things for our ultimate good. We are blessed to live from victory of Christ rather than live for victory of our own.
As I went back to work this week, “rooted” was on my mind. It suddenly became obvious that this word came from the Lord. We as a church are going through a “Growing Up Challenge” together, learning spiritual disciplines for daily life and how to be a disciple. We even use study books called Growing Up, Firmly Planted, and Foundations. Everything points back to “rooted.” It's come full circle.
Living out my word of the year in daily life in 2017 will take a lot of prayer. “Rooted” means saying yes to stillness, quiet, and rest. To time alone with Christ. To stepping out of my comfort zone trusting Him and knowing my foundation cannot be shaken. To gratitude, to generosity, to service. “Rooted” means saying no to comparison and selfishness. No to busyness and hustle, and definitely no to doubt and distrust. Over and over and over again.
No matter what changes occur over the next 12 months, my identity is rooted in God. My roots are unshakeable. I pray they grow deeper and stronger than I ever thought possible. I pray they remind me of exactly who I am and whose I am.
I believe God will use "rooted" within me this year, even if in the smallest and most unexpected of ways. I'm challenging you to set your own word for 2017. Send me an email or reply in the comments below. Share it with your friends. Pray about it and offer it up to Jesus. And together, let's watch as He shows up yet again.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.