Word of the year is a practice that has held a powerful place in my world since my first effort in 2019. That first word was “Hope” and that was the year through many trials, pain and some serious determination, I became pregnant. There were times that year I actually looked myself in the mirror and said “Hope” tells me I have to take this action in complete faith. I did and I made it to my destination.
Since that first year I have continued to be very purposeful and prayerful in my word selection. This word had the influence to put me in a particular mindset and lead me to action – the responsibility to choose well and in line with the Lord was important. As 2020 came along – for my family with a bit of a crazy start, only to be followed by the rest of the world shortly after – I chose “Joy”. It was very clear I was going to have to learn to live choosing peace and happiness, despite the existence of struggle, suffering and fear – the Catholic definition of joy. Well we all know how 2020 turned out…. and I can safely say that year held my greatest joys and sorrows with a line so thin I am still processing it.
We all were so excited for 2021, it was like the world shared a theme of excitement, hope, seeking normal. In that way I was no different. But spending Christmas with a spouse who was dealing with such severe depression my own personal therapy included components of learning that I could not blame myself for whatever may result- and yet celebrating it as a first time mom, the idea of the new year was a life line. 2021 I was going to double down on my prayer life – I was going to commit our family to God and dedicate my Bible in a Year study specifically to our healing. This year I was going to be so certain to walk in step as close as humanly possible with God and I was convinced by the next Christmas life would be so beautiful, the suffering would all make sense. So I chose “Be Still” so I could be sure to not be in God’s way and just let him work.
2021 was the worst year I have ever lived through and there were many points I was not sure I would. Often my prayers to God were to find a way to let me still be here with Shannon to watch her grow, and yet can I just leave this life so I don’t have to watch my heart break more than it already has. God was working – and against forces that are still fighting me so hard I am constantly debating learning more about spiritual warfare to fight it… and fear of the more intense evil I may encounter. There were steps necessary to take when realities of the seriousness of the situation our little family faced with holes in the wall and intense emotional and mental stress that would need some serious support. And then there were steps I was forced to just accept…. and any day now maybe I will.
For the first time in my adult life I walked into a new year with fear. Leaving 2021 without resolution or any sort of understanding felt scary and dangerous – how can all this hard and pain be carried into a new beginning? If I take it with me, can there be any expectation that good can still come in 2022? But time is one of those things that choice can’t influence. So instead I have intently studied my own life and the lives in the Bible or of Saints or of strong Christians, to identify the things that went so wrong it felt like recovery was not possible for them, but ended up being life giving. It happens to us humans more than I think we would like to admit. It has happened to me several times over – I have screamed and hollered at God with words that should never be uttered in a faith setting and yet he has been right. He will always be right and if i choose him, I will always be right too – even if I won’t know it until the next life.
Secondly the distraction of the pain, of the worry, of the wondering why….. has been a constant pull on my energy, time, focus, health, patience, hope, gratitude… and I continue risking the miss of the good things.. of the important things…. of Shannon and my family and work… of what is left of my life. It has felt my whole world has ended, but it has not just a big piece has rejected me. But not the whole thing. And I can’t miss that…. so I have to let go. Let go of control, worry, my thoughts, my fears, my emotions, my preconceived notions, my requirements to be present/happy/alive, my thoughts of what it would like to be married (I am still a wife that is committed, just looks different)….. as the priest said in my advent confession, I have to surrender. For 2022 I will surrender.
The Catholic definition of surrender is to give up everything to under the dominion of God: thoughts, actions, words, people. So often it sounds like a passive: just hand it over and wait. But really it is very active – and usually all day long – choice to have every aspect of your life, every breath you take, be placed under God’s guidance. Let go isn’t really the way….. and for a controlling, a-type, strong personailty, it is more of a constant giving (or giving back to) to God for “thy will to be done”.
For 2022 that is the only option I have left, the only path that stands a chance at peace and the only route back to living the life I do have… and pausing to see the beauty it does offer. Not to miss it with what is missing. I must surrender it all to God and be committed to waiting and watching him work from every single word I select to hopefully the saving of my family. God has taken me ways I have not wanted to go… heck I have “gone” kicking and screaming and losing it….. and yet it has been for the good, for the best even. I have to trust, because my humanity has run out of its own abilities, and God’s way is necessary.
Here are a few resources that I have found very helpful in recognizing it is not a “let go” and just sort of let my prayers drift away… but rather taking action to continually give it to Him. And thanks to the amazing Catholic Church there are a lot of active ways to do just that:
Father Schmitz Video: How to Surrender https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aabwei87sQM
Ascension Presents Video: how to pray to have Jesus help you in surrender https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGirR1ITB4c
Litany of Trust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTEM1m3TRqg
Poco Podcast: Seeking Mary’s help when year doesn’t wrap up https://getpodcast.com/podcast/the-poco-a-poco-podcast/ending-the-year-well_a3f16b634c
Thy Will Be Done Song by Hillary Scott
First Saturday Practice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Saturdays_Devotion
Abiding Together Podcast: Women’s desire to control https://www.abidingtogetherpodcast.com/podcastarchive/s10e10-sister-mean-girls
Mother & Home: A strong community with great retreats and challneges
Wishing you all the blessings you seek in the new year and I look forward to seeing you around here a little more often as part of the joys and blessings I am grateful for in the beautiful life I still have today.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!