Each year, I have a tradition of writing a letter. I write a letter that reflects on the prior year, and dreams about the year to come. It's become one of my favorite posts to write, along with the Year In Review posts. I guess sentimental things are my jam.
This time last year, at 9AM on January 1st, I had already driven 3 hours back to Santa Barbara and was packing up my apartment. At some point during that morning, I distinctly heard a word spoken over 2014. I heard it, and I liked it. I wasn't 100% sure if I believed it yet, but I shook off my unbelief and proceeded walking in faith that my year would be marked with joy. That evening, after hours of moving and multiple dear friends who helped make that possible, I sat sipping a milk shake at my favorite local restaurant. I snapped a selfie, wrote a quick thankful thought, and hashtagged it #findingjoyin2014.
Well girlfriend, that's exactly what happened. :)
Joy was indeed found in 2014, and it came abundantly. Moments with radiating joy are pasted all over the imaginary scrapbook of 2014: racing a herd of beautiful African children on the mountaintops of Kisoro, Uganda; walking by faith into a situation that I never could have crafted myself, and watching God consistently and faithfully reveal His presence over and over again; getting to stand up and teach the Word of God for the very first time, and feeling entirely consumed by passion I've never felt before; getting into seminary school, and watching as a dream of studying Scripture unfolded before my very eyes; and of course, the magical evening of May 31st, 2014, when the love of my life crossed my path in the dreamiest 24 hours of my entire life.
Joy, all-encompassing joy.
As I took time to reflect on the year, I realized that not only was it one marked by joy, but it was one marked by learning. When asked by my roommates what I learned in 2014, I was surprised by my response: "I learned how to let go, and go with the flow." I hadn't ever thought of it that way before, but it's true.
Everything that happened in the last year was not by my planning. I didn't seek out the Africa trip. I didn't seek to change churches for a season, and never dreamed that I'd be given the opportunity to regularly speak and teach on Scripture. I didn't seek to return to my home church when the time came. I didn't expect to begin seminary school this year, and while I certainly hoped to fall in love, I never could have predicted or created the way that it happened.
2014 was a year of walking closely with the Spirit. Following its promptings where ever I felt them, whether it was a sharp turn, a U-turn, or a 4 and a half hour drive to visit a man I met at a wedding. 2014 was a year of letting go of planning, and experiencing the joy of simply following.
Oh Lord, please let me soak up that lesson for years to come. Perhaps that's why the joy was so evident, because what joy comes with releasing our own expectations in exchange for trust in His perfect plan.
2015. One, how is it 2015 again? I feel like I was just ringing in 2007 as a high school senior. Time is just evaporating into thin air. Cray-zeeee.
But okay, two: What do I see for 2015? My last two letters, I clearly felt drawn to Bible verses for the year. Philemon 1:6 was the verse for 2014, and 2 Peter 1:6-7 was for 2013. This year, I can't say that I have a clear verse yet. Though, I'll be hunting! But I can say that I've felt a word spoken over the year, and I hope it proves accurate standing on the other side.
Last night, as I was texting a friend about accountability in regular Scripture study, I felt a word come to mind. 2014 was marked by learning. There were countless, almost daily, lessons that I felt through out the year. But if my 16 years of education have shown me anything, it's that learning is one thing, and applying is another.
I want to apply what I'm learning to my life. I want to see fruit, real fruit. Whether it's evident heart change, or a shift in my routine and habits, I want to know that my heart is truly soaking up that which I'm learning.
I hope to see my security more solidly found in Christ alone. I hope to see my heart take joy in serving above all other things. I hope to see a decrease in the number of moments where I choose myself over PJ. Man, a relationship can seriously expose the selfish parts of your heart, huh? (I mean, mine never does. Cough, cough, jaykay).
I hope to see more responsible financial habits, and more cooking at home versus eating out. I hope to dive deeper into serving in women's ministry, and look forward to the Bible studies and retreats of the coming year.
2014, you were so good to me. Thank you.
2015, I'm excited to meet you. Let's see what you've got up your sleeve, shall we?