As I reflect on this year, I am filled with gratitude. There were so many reasons for me to rejoice this year.
Making new friends. Deepening my relationships with old friends. A great first college track season. Getting more involved in the church that now feels like home. Encouraging kids towards Jesus through soccer. In person classes and real campus life this fall. Sweet time with family. And so many fun moments and memories in between.
And though my heart is full, I am also weary. The most accurate description of this fall semester is “emotionally exhausting.” I’ve really had to rely on God’s strength to get me through the difficult moments. This year more than ever, I’ve learned that I simply can’t do this life on my own. I need God. I need safe spaces to call home. I need people who encourage me and continue to love me, even when I have nothing left to give.
I’ve also had to learn that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not have it all together. It’s okay to not always be the strong one. It’s okay to bring my broken prayers to God, because he wants my whole heart—even the parts that hurt.
My word of the year for 2021 was REJOICE. It wasn’t a goal I attempted to achieve by the end of the year, but simply something to focus on. I wanted to focus on rejoicing in all circumstances. I’ve been reminded recently that this doesn’t mean plastering a fake smile on your face and pretending like everything’s fine. It means trusting that God has a plan and that he knows what he’s doing. It means trusting his promises, even when they don’t make sense. It means trusting that he will be with us and he will be faithful, even when this life feels far from good.
As this year comes to a close, maybe you feel weary, too. Maybe you’re exhausted. Maybe you’re scared of the unknown future. Maybe you don’t feel like rejoicing.
What would it look like if we chose to praise God in the midst of the uncertainty? What would it look like to trust that his plans are better than our own? What would it look like to rejoice anyway?
In this next year, I pray that we would create more safe spaces to process hard things together. I pray that we would bring our exhausted souls to the feet of the Father and receive real rest. I pray that we would wrap our arms around each other and kneel before our Father with humble, honest prayers. I pray that we would remember HIS promises and rely on HIS strength when things are difficult. And I pray that we would choose to rejoice. Together. Because it’s so much better when we choose to do life TOGETHER.
P.S. If you need a reason to smile today, here's a photo of my silly family :)