Well friends, 2016 is almost over. And honestly, I’m happy about that.
This year has been rough. For lack of better words, it’s been the best year spiritually and the worst year emotionally. It’s been long and hard.
But there seems to have been one common theme throughout the year: God’s plans are always better than my plans. His promises will never return void. His ways are always perfect, never flawed.
I’m a dreamer at heart and a planner by nature. Sometimes, the two collide. And that, my friends, is where the process happens.
Up until this year I’ve had my dream future all planned out perfectly. It was beautiful! I’ve had my lovely little life planned out for years. Three years ago, the man of my dreams walked into my life and my plans have involved him ever since. My picture perfect life was coming together. I was starting to live my dream. Then 2016 happened and everything changed. Every plan I ever had was crushed. At least, that’s what it felt like. I replanned everything and, a week later, they got crushed again. I was angry. I was hurt. I felt rejected by God. I felt like He had just forgotten about my dreams all of a sudden. Slowly, very slowly, Jesus began to teach me about His plans. His plans are perfect. He never messes up.
I love to plan. That’s just the way I work. So when Jesus asked me to lay all my plans down and let Him do the planning, I was pretty hesitant. What if things didn’t turn out the way I wanted? (i know, i know, pretty selfish huh?) The reality was that I didn’t completely trust God. As I processed my way through the request God had made, I heard Him say, “Don’t you think my plans would be better than yours? I can see the whole picture and I only have the very best for you!” That blew me away! This whole year has been a big struggle of knowing and accepting my worth. I had the mindset that I needed to be perfect for God to give me the best and, since I wasn’t perfect, He would have to change His perfect plans. BUT! The fulfillment of God’s perfect plan for our lives is not based on our perfect behavior towards Him (thank goodness!). Once I realized He wasn’t going to reduce my blessing to what I thought I was worth, I began yielding my plans and dreams to Jesus. Not just once, not twice, but every singe day until I felt peace that He was going to take care of me perfectly! His plans for me are far greater, more intricate, and a hundred times more beautiful than I could ever hope to imagine!
As the year progressed, God started dropping hints that He wanted to talk to me about something. I knew what he was going to say and I didn’t want to hear it so I ignored Him for a few weeks. (i don’t suggest ignoring God. he always finds a way to get through.) Finally one night I sat down and asked Jesus what He wanted to tell me. “Start writing and don’t stop until I stop talking.” So I wrote and wrote and wrote without thinking or questioning anything He said. When Jesus stopped talking, I read everything back to myself and was crying my eyes out before I had even made it through the first sentence.
Jesus gently told me that I needed to take a year off work and learn to rest. I did not want to hear that. I love to work. I’m a very hard worker. I like to start and complete tasks and feel accomplished. I love working. I really really love it! But I am horrible at resting. I am the type of person who needs to be alone to fully rest, reset, and recharge. However, making time for myself has never been a priority. To me, it feels wasteful to spend time relaxing when I could be studying or cleaning or doing something that really “needs” to be done. Rest was always shoved aside. As a result, I was completely exhausted and drained almost all the time. With my first semester complete, I started reflecting on how the whole ‘learning to rest’ thing was going. To my horror, I realized that I had actually completely failed. I ended up way more exhausted than I was when Jesus first asked me to rest. I felt horrible because I had basically failed at what Jesus had asked me to do. In His extreme kindness, He reassured me that it was all okay and we could just start where we were. So we did.
For the first two weeks of my break, I hardly moved from the dining room table. My puzzle was set up there so that’s where I did all my resting (puzzles are super therapeutic to me). I thought, I listened to sermons, I worshipped, I prayed, I cried (a lot), I complained, I listened, I rested. Now almost a month into my break, I feel like I’m finally starting to get a hold of how to rest. Yeah, I messed up a lot this semester. I neglected myself and I didn’t prioritize rest. But the grace of Jesus is so utterly astounding. He forgave every little mess up and just let me start over. JESUS IS SO FREAKING KIND!!!!
This year, I’ve learned to lay everything down. None of it was in my timing. But the timing was perfect. Nothing went how I imagined or dreamed or planned. But it was perfect. Nothing went my way. But everything went God’s way. And the thing I’ve learned throughout the course of the year is that God’s way is perfect! Every time, His way is perfect!
Sometimes His timing seems off. Sometimes you may have to wait a while. Sometimes you have to pray for a miracle for a long time even when it seems like it would be much more beneficial for God to go ahead and just give you the blessing. But then when Jesus does give you the long awaited miracle blessing, you’re reminded of His perfect timing, His impeccable nature, His perfect ways.
Guys, Jesus is so kind! He is so forgiving and graceful. I mess up every single day. Yet every morning, Jesus whispers softly in my ear, “Today is a new day. Let’s do this together!” Jesus is always present. He cares so deeply. His love is more genuine than the most incredible romance novel ever written. His nature is perfect! He IS perfection!
He’s got this. This life thing–this really hard life journey–God’s got it. And He’s got you! He will NEVER let you down! Never ever ever! It’s like a huge pinky promise from Jesus! He’ll never let you down! He will always be faithful! Over and over again, He will show you His faithfulness!
I’m declaring 2017 to be a year of FULFILLMENT! Fulfillment of promises! Fulfillment of dreams and visions! Fulfillment of words and wonder and unspeakable blessing!!!
Let’s dive into to 2017 with expectant hearts that Jesus is going to bless us unconditionally! Let’s believe that His plans and purposes are PERFECT! Let’s make 2017 the best year yet!!!
I love you all so much and I can’t wait to see the beauty of next year’s process!
SO MANY BLESSINGS TO YOU THIS YEAR!!!!