Cuddled up on the couch mulling over the past year whilst sipping on sleepy time tea, I am left with a smile on my face. This was not the year I expected. Rather, it was much better than I ever imagined.
The verse that stands out to me that most accurately sums up the past year for me is Romans 8:28 which says,
And we know that in all things God works for ths good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I’d like to share in this blog post the crazy ways God worked the unpredicted out for good this past year. I will also in conclusion express the growth opportunities I see within the up coming year.
I had great dreams this past year to start a women’s group. I meant it for good and to give glory to God. But God told me this was not my season to do it. I was disheartened and frustrated with God. I felt ready! I felt people were ready to hear what I had to share. But I listened to God nudging at my heart to remain in a spiritual winter.
I’m so grateful I did not start a women’s group. While I still dream of doing great crazy things for the Lord, he needed me first to humble myself and nail down some basics. I needed to consistently go to church to associate with the body of Christ and be obedient to God. I needed to plug into a group where I wasn’t the leader so I could build relationships with other believers and realize what this group thing was about. I needed (and still need) to clean up some things in my character like swearing and gossiping in order to live a life of integrity that God calls of his disciples. And mostly, I needed to daily learn to sit knee to knee with my savior when no one was watching. I needed to develop an extreme dependency on my heavenly Father so that if, Lord willing, I am in ministry one day, none of it will be my efforts depart from God’s hand.
I had plans to not marry my husband until 2020. But a cold day in February I received a letter stating I needed to find a different insurance provider. The cheapest option was to marry my fiancé…in three weeks. Initially I was equally excited to marry him and crushed I wouldn’t have my dream wedding.
I’m so grateful I had to marry my husband early. Everything came together more beautifully than I could have imagined. Plans fell into place as if they were divinely orchestrated. Our wedding was intimate and sweet. The day was filled with laughter and joy. I know God’s heart smiled that day. In addition to that beautiful day, I’ve had the honor of watching this man who was just a boyfriend be promoted to fiancé then step into his role as a husband. Though we haven’t been married long, I see such a change in him than he was a year ago. He is more tender and thoughtful. He works hard to provide. He is preparing himself and our home to grow a family one day. It has bless my heart to see him become more of the man God called him to be.
I had plans to have a beautiful summer reception that would be as equally stress free and fun as our winter wedding. It wasn’t. Of course, we did have a blast, but the planning and relational stress pushed me to an edge. I was frustrated and overwhelmed as I cried regularly just trying to get through everything. I even wound up being sick the week after likely from the amount of stress.
I am so grateful I went through that challenging planning season. Marriages are built in the trenches, not on the mountain tops. My husband had the opportunity to comfort me in times of distress and he rose to the opportunity in was I had never seen him do before. He stood up for me in ways I never imagined him doing. I wish I had handled things better, but through all the unpleasant situations, my marriage grew. For that, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I had plans to keep going hard in my exercise and compete in an amateur olympic weightlifting competition by the end of this year. But in the fall of this year I finally saw a doctor as my energy and moods tanked. Between an unknown food intolerance and terrible burn out, I pretty well did my body in. I had to scale way back of exercise to recover which left competition out of the question. The damage I did to my body affected my hormones as well and I began to deal with deep depression and crippling anxiety. To top it off, December of this year, I was in a car accident while driving an ATV. My body took a toll this year.
I am so grateful my body was forced to take a break. As someone who has battled eating disorders, including orthorexia and over exercising, take a break was not easy for me. The half marathon I ran this past summer was easier than cutting my workouts to three times or less a week, then not at all for two weeks. I’ve had to learn that health isn’t just lifting a weight or fitting into a certain size. It is prioritizing sleep, eating foods that work with you (no matter how boring), and addressing mental health. I’ve also not been able to numb myself with food or drink so I have to face the rawness of my insecurities. I am having to unpack so many mental hurtles I didn’t even recognize I had because of the lack of comfort food, exercise, alchohol, and certain happy hormones.
And I am grateful for the accident. Prior to the accident, I was having such a hard time emotionally recognizing my purpose and thinking others would be better off without me. The accident I was in could have killed me or at least much more severely injured me. Yet I picked myself up off the road and walked away with just a few stitches, bruising, and a concussion. If God was done with me here on this earth, he had his opportunity to take me. But here I am. I’m convinced God did not cause the accident, but he used it to remind me I still have purpose. He is not done with me yet.
There are countless other ways God worked this year out for good. I have learned in this past year to appreciate the everyday. The twist and turns that my planner self shuns are the very incidents that God uses to reveal himself. This is not the year I planned, but I am so grateful and humbled and honored that this was the year I was given.
I am looking forward to the surprises this next year will bring, but I also anticipate a few things that will challenge me.
I see myself being given plenty of opportunities to be more selfless and christlike. Marriage in and of itself begs one to throw off their own desires for the sake of their spouse. I pray I become a better wife in this next year as I simultaneously turn my heart both towards God and my husband. In addition to that, I have the opportunity to serve a couple if my friends as they are getting married. I know there will be things that will pick at my beloved routine. I look forward to the challenge of thinking of others instead of myself. And I already feel provoked to give more of myself on the farm. This past year much time was taken up party planning and I am eager to work harder for my family.
I see myself firming up my identity. With already being slightly stripped of my self proclaimed amateur athletic stance and even my occupation as a farmer due to needing recovery time, I’m having to base my self worth in something deeper that looks, skills, or occupation. Honestly, this has truly been uncharted territory for me. While I’ve preached self love and whatnot, I’ve always been able to fall back on something whether its looks, strength, or titles. I’m sitting with a few questions currently: “Why do I have to be beautiful?” “What if I never competed or lifted any remarkable numbers?” “Who would I be if I was no longer a dairy farmer?” Even, “would I continue to study and blog if my audience never grows or even shrinks?” These questions scare me yet equally excite me. If all arbitrary things were shaken, what would I be left with? I believe I am in for a season of cementing my identity in Christ, my Rock and Redeemer.
Lastly, I like to go into a new year with a phrase to stick to as a reminder of my goals. This year is simple, yet something I hope to continuously dive deeper into.
I want to know God, and make him known.
Perhaps I will go deeper into this concept in a later blog post, but to be concise, I want to deepen my relationship with Christ and live in such a way that others get to know him through me. I am eager to continue blogging what God reveals to me. I’m honored he chose me to use this platform. Even if I am the only one who reads it, I know continual bible study deepens my relationship with God. Therefore until he tells me to stop, gear up for more to come on Failing Forward.
I’d like to leave you with a couple verses that are my prayer for myself, my readers, and all whom I come in contact with. I hope through the failings and blunders of last year you find something to be grateful for, and I hope in all the freshness of the new year, you take on challenges without the fear of mistakes.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.