2018 Word of the Year

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.
You make me brave, you make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.
You split the sea so I could walk right through it.

Three of my favorite worship songs depict me walking through my greatest fear: the ocean. The water of the unknown. Since they have been released, every time they are played in church, I get excited. I sing the words passionately, because my heart wants to believe that I have the faith that it takes to walk through a sea of rough waters.

However, right now, my feet don’t seem very stable. I don’t feel so brave. My heart feels shackled to some old fears.

As I was thinking about picking my word of the year, my head kept coming back to these songs, and with them came these questions: What would it take to believe these songs again? What would it take to step out of the boat?

After prayer and Bible study, my answer to those questions and word of the year is:

That’s an especially hard word for me in this season where God has seemed silent, family and friends have caused deep hurt, and my emotions have betrayed me. But if it is truly my desire to have this kind of faith again, I have to get to a point where I trust God, no matter what my circumstances or emotions.

What I hope Trust will look like in 2018-

I will trust that God is all He says He is, and can do all He says can do.

  • In order to get to this point, I need to remind myself constantly of who God is and what He has done. Right now, I’m leaning toward rereading the book of Matthew or John to remind myself of God’s love for me through the human example of Jesus.

I will trust what God says about me, rather than allowing others to define my worth.

  • More often then not, I hear the disapproval of others before the approval of God. I allow critiques to change my lens, and trust someone’s condemnation is reflected in God’s opinion of me. My head knows that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I would passionately share that for anyone else. But somehow I am always the exception. God’s love is enough for anyone but me. God can forgive anyone, but not me. God thinks I am too much, a burden, a mistake. My head knows they are lies, but they are so deeply ingrained in my heart that it is hard to trust that God could see me as anything else. But if God is all that He says He is, and can do all He says He can do, I can trust that I am all that He says I am.

I am going to trust the friends and family who have earned the right to speak truth in my life.

  • I often don’t hear affirmation. I can’t remember the praise of people, but I also can’t forget the ridicule of a select few. I get caught in this pattern of waiting for the approval of a select few, when I already have it in the Lord and a multitude of others who have earned the right to be trusted. I recognize it’s not fair that I dismiss their approval, but because it doesn’t match the lies I have latched onto, I somehow rationalize that their words aren’t true. I am tired of trusting lies. I want to feel confident that I am loved and valued. So, it’s time for me to cut the “but”. When someone affirms me, I will not negate their words or contradict them (in my head or out loud) by all of the ways I believe I don’t measure up. I will say thank you, and I will praise God for that compliment.

Currently, I’m reading the book Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and her chapter “Vinegar and Oil” really encouraged me as I wrestled with choosing my word of the year.

When you begin to pray, picture a bottle of oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, a cruet like you find on the table of an old-school Italian restaurant…. the vinegar rests on top of the olive oil. The green yellow oil is at the bottom of the bottle, rich and flavorful…. You cannot taste the oil until you pour out the vinegar. And it’s okay to admit there’s vinegar– all of the small hurts and fears. You pour it out, letting the all powerful God who knows you and loves you see you as you are, the scariest thing any of us can do: allow ourselves to be seen.

When I was in the peak of anxiety, I desperately prayed that God would take it away. That was the only answer I could accept when I gave Him my vinegar. So when He didn’t, I stopped giving Him my vinegar. But my head knows that God is bigger than my circumstances, that He can work all things for good, that I can never go outside of His will or plan. There is a reason He didn’t take away my anxiety– I may never know it until I get to heaven, but it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a purpose and a plan on earth. I really want my heart to believe these things, because I miss God and sharing my oil and vinegar with Him. I want a trust that allows me to walk through a parted sea, into the unknown where feet may fail.

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.– Romans 15:13

If you need help picking a word, make sure you check out my “How to Choose a Word of the Year ” post.

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