I’ve been choosing a word of the year since 2016. A new word for each year, and each year, God shows up. While I think about the word and pray about it some before officially choosing it, I’m still not really sure in January what it means for me or if it will affect my year ahead. But then God always does beyond what I imagine He will, revealing more of Himself through that word over the next 12 months.
I didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on my word for 2019, because it came to me quickly, and I knew this word was the right one.
Peace in my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and parenting.
Peace in my marriage.
Peace in our families and friendships.
Peace with our jobs.
Peace at home.
Peace in my heart.
Peace with God.
This peace is the opposite of fear, worry, and anxiety. It’s the opposite of turmoil and war. Peace takes work. It takes trust in the Lord and faith in His plan.
The word “peace” occurs more than 400 times in the Bible. Yes, 400.
Try finding “fear” or “anxiety” that many times. Hint: You won’t. And when you do see “fear,” it’s likely referring to the fear of God, a holy reverence and awe of Him, not a feeling of danger.
A few weeks ago my pastor gave a sermon where he referenced Ephesians 2, and it has really stuck with me. He said Jesus Himself is our peace—and that God actually created peace. Meditating on that helps bring me peace. Our God is not a God of worry and anxiety but of peace.
God sent his son, Jesus, to defeat sin and Satan. He destroyed the dividing wall of hostility between us and God, and He offers new, eternal life to everyone—simply asking we confess that we need Him and that we believe in Him. The cross that Jesus died for us on reconciles us to God and puts to death the hostility. It can no longer overtake us or rule us. It’s done for good.
But Jesus is not.
He rose again and is now seated at the throne in heaven. He came and preached peace to all the ends of the earth. Peace is His mission. Peace is His message, and this is the peace that I want to guide my life.
The last few months of my 2018 haven’t been peaceful. They’ve been full of worry, anxiety, doubt, and fear. They’ve looked much different than what I had expected for newlywed life. My husband and I work opposite schedules. We have a few hours to be together on the weekend, but that’s it. There’s no time for joining a group together through our church or for making new friends. No time for the seemingly little things like having breakfast with each other or even washing the dishes together. We both value quality time as our top love language, so having such different schedules has been trying to say the least. I haven’t always run to God for comfort and peace.
My anxiety has shifted off of my body and food—praise God!—as He has brought significant healing into that area of my life. But when I’m not spending as much time in the Word, in prayer, or in community, the anxiety can crop back up in new ways. In these past few months, I’ve wrestled with anxiety in my pregnancy. I’ve worried about my baby and his health, and I’ve developed a rather intense fear of delivery. I’ve faced anxiety around my job, around Charles’ job, around our home and being “ready” for baby, around our finances, and even around my passion of writing and this blog.
This anxiety culminated last month in a panic attack, a first for me and something I felt woefully unprepared for.
It was terrifying, and I didn’t understand what was happening in the moment. After I calmed down, I fell asleep for over an hour. It was as though my body shut down, refusing to carry the weight of anxiety anymore.
As I’ve been processing through each of these things, I’ve written less and less on this blog. I’ve needed time to work through my thoughts and emotions with God, my husband, and those closest to me.
January feels like a new chapter for me and my little family. I keep thinking about the peace of Christ, and I pray this peace will rule in my heart as I have been “called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) Gratitude truly does change my perspective. When I focus on my blessings, like thinking about this baby boy as a literal miracle, my fear quickly dissipates. When I remember all The Lord has done for me, how He’s given me a new identity and a firm foundation in Him alone, then the stressors of this world become meaningless. Then all I want is to live for Him and to be more like Him.
I love the story of Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8:22-25:
As I read this passage this week, I noticed the note I had written in the margin: Often we go through storms to experience more of God and more of His glory. He uses the storms to strengthen our faith and trust in Him. But He’s always present in the storm and all-powerful over it.
I imagine God has been waiting for me to come to this point, saying to me, Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25) I have created you for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. (Jeremiah 1:5) I know the plans I have for you, and I will give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Now trust in me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Okay, Holy Spirit, let’s do this. 2019, I’m ready.
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.