2018 Reflections and 2019 Anticipations

The sun has set on 2018 and is now rising on 2019. It’s 3:30 in the morning on January 1st and though I should be starting to get ready for work, I am im my sweats writing, reading, refecting, and anticipating.

I don’t believe we can fully know where we should be going unless we analyze where we’ve been. Therefore, for this 2019 manifesto, I will begin with a quick recap on 2018.

This past year was not the year I wanted, but I do believe it was the year I needed.

The best word I could use to describe 2018 would be sobering, and that’s not just because I didn’t drink for 8 months. The year began with a deep onset of depression for me. A hard, dark feeling I had not felt in a long time. The times were tough on the farm as we did our best but the weather fought us every step of the way. With my dad having a broken leg and being in a boot for 11 weeks, work consumed my life. My days felt primarily consumed with hard labor and caregiving. The fall left us no mercy and an abundance of stress and weather and equipment failures plagued our days. Then just yesterday morning while milking, I heard the news that my mother had broken her hip. Nothing seemed to go particularly well for the Raymond family this year.

But though this all seems awful, I believe this was the year I have grown the most. What brought me out of my depression was experiencing, possibly for the first time in my life, the overwhelming, all consuming grace of God. I recommitted my life to Him. That made the rest of the events of this year bearable to the point of educational. I was able to put my faith in God for the accomplishment of both spring and harvest. Long hours toiling alone in the dust and dirt gave me ample opportunity to speak with God and self analyze. My prayer life grew tremendously. Though many of my prayers were simply, “I’m at the end of me, but not at the end of this. Help me to endure,” I know they were heard and my soul was comforted. I made peace with people I never thought I would and I grew close to people I barely knew. My relationship with my boyfriend grew past a couple rocky points and blossomed so much so that we are now engaged!

Though it was a difficult year, I believe it prepared me for so much more to come. Which that fact simultaneously comforts and intimidates me.

With the past year and the lessons learned from it in mind, I look forward to this upcoming year eager for what it has in store.

I’m not a huge resolutions girl. Of course I have goals for 2019 such as run a half marathon, build some boulder shoulders, make it through a bathroom remodel and wedding planning without absolutely dissolving my relationship, start a women’s small group, actually write a blog post once a week, maybe take a vacation, so on so forth. But these are also goals I’ve been working on since I formed them weeks, even months ago.

On thing I am a fan of though is having a mantra to carry you through the year. I was recently challenge to create one, and though I feel like a fairly creative person, for the life of me, I could not think of anything worth living by. So I turned to the best source of information and inspiration: the Bible. In my daily reading that day, I came across a passage that really spoke to me and I intend to carry with me throughout this next year and life.

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you:

To do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8 NLT

I’d like to further break down what that passage has really spoken to me.

“To do what is right”

Many translations say, “seek justice.” God, through his prophet Micah, was literally telling His people to treat others well. Prior to this verse, the people of Israel were questioning what they had to offer a God so great and mighty. Would a grand parade of sacrifices be enough? No. God didn’t want their show then and He doesn’t want our show now. He wants simply that we, as his children, treat other people, who are also made in the image of God, well. He wants us to be fair with one another. He asks just treatment with no manipulation or oppression. He wants us to do right by each other.

“To love mercy”

Mercy is defined as, “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” If that isn’t the best thing you could receive, I don’t know what is. And the beautiful thing is, God pours that continually out upon his children. Let’s face it, God is perfect and we are not. But beyond perfect, he is also holy. He is set apart and cannot be where sin is. This is shown time and time again throughout the Old Testament. Yet he is dying and literally did send His son to die to be with us. He wanted to show is great mercy. He wants us to show the same to others. My study Bible defines it as, “passionate, undeserved loyalty.” As children of God, let us be passionately loyal to others as we are blessed to have a Father who is passionately loyal to us.

“To walk humbly with your God”

All of this passage gets to me but none more so than this last part. “walk humbly with your God.” First of all, I am overwhelmed by the thought that God invited us to walk with Him. There is nothing I enjoy more than walking with a close friend. The conversation are usually of the highest quality as we tread on towards the same end point. When it’s a long distance, we can encourage each other to keep going regardless of how fatigued one or the other may become. We are stronger together. And that is describing a mere human connection. Can you imagine walking with God? No matter how rough the path, there would not be a question on your ability to endure thanks to the helping hand of the most high God.

But it is more than merely walking with God; it is walking humbly with God. I know in my pride I may get to think, “hey I walk with God, I’m practically a goddess!” But it is not because of how holy or righteous we are that God walks with us. It is only because of God’s passionate, undeserving loyalty and the sacrifice Jesus made at the cross that we are able to walk hand in hand through this storm of a life with God. It is not by our work but by his grace. We have no right to be anything by humbled as we journey with God at our side.

I cannot claim to be able to live fully by this passage for I know the flaws of my humanity. But I can claim, I will be meditating upon it as using it as my driving force in my personal and relational life.

I believe that if we were to do a little more right, show a bit more mercy, and walk a lot more humbly with our Lord we would each be more at peace and our world would be a better place.

2 thoughts on “2018 Reflections and 2019 Anticipations

  1. Thank you Rachel. You are an amazing writer and I look forward to reading your blogs. Billy talked about you yesterday. After reading a previous blog he commented in it, then went back to the top to see who had written it. IT WAS YOU! He says you are very creative and talented. We love you Rachel ❤Keeping your mom and family in our prayers 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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