I wake up on the morning of January 1 feeling a bit achy and like I can’t quite take a deep breath. Staring at the ceiling, I realize that I’m walking into a new year with more questions than answers. Each December, I pause to take inventory of the year that is coming to a close. I think about my core desired feelings and the word I chose to meditate on for the year. My word for 2018 was garden. Admittedly, I did not write much about my word this year, but nevertheless, it became an altar in my heart that I intend to return to often—anytime I need to be reminded that God is kind and that the story being written for my life is good and purposeful. I think a lot about the kind of life that I want to cultivate and what might be needed in order to help beautiful things grow here. What are the tools I will need to dig deep? What feels like water to my soul? How will I weed and prune these few short days that I have been given? And what do I do when the harvest doesn’t look the way I thought that it would? Slowly, but surely, I will unearth the answers to these questions.
Perhaps it is God’s mercy that the truth I hear above the noise is that no good thing can come to fruition apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. There are plenty of people making big, gimicky promises about hustling and life hacks, offering golden tickets to instant gratification, but the flashiness of it all just leaves me exhausted and hacked to pieces. We were not made to hustle and hack, and no amount of flashiness can serve as a substitute for the beauty and mystery of slow, intentional growth. More than a challenge, it feels like an invitation to open up, to discover and even befriend God inside of me.
Instead of a single word for 2019, I’ve been given a prayer. Three words, fourteen letters, strung together like the beads of a rosary. At first, I don’t tell anyone. It feels too intimate, too vulnerable, too simple, too bold, too borderline crazy to say out loud to another human being. The truth is, even short term goals like trying a barre class or cleaning out my closet are hard for me to make and much more so to share, because what if someone holds me to it and I end up letting them down? Just the thought leaves me with visceral feelings of discomfort (fix it please and thank you Jesus). But this feels too important, crucial even, to do alone, so I start small, and with hopeful determination.
First, I text my friend Sarah, who is living her yes to this invitation more beautifully than anyone I think I’ve ever met. I tell her I’m going to need her for this, and immediately, she invites me over for coffee. A few days later, I work up the courage to say it out loud to my friend Julie over breakfast. How the words made it past the jittery lump in my throat, I will never know. I wondered if she could sense the tension in that moment. Something I feel like you should know about Julie is that we’re essentially opposites. She is an enthusiastic and energetic go-getter with a level of intensity that always manages to startle me. She thinks when I feel, and she’s a little too good at kicking me out of my dark, cozy comfort zone. The most beautiful of all is that she sees me and celebrates me and has this incredible way of affirming things I’ve been wondering about in my heart but haven’t managed to speak.
And now, in the spirit of vulnerability and writing it all down, I’m telling you.
My prayer for 2019 is Holy Spirit, come.
It doesn’t feel like a wooing to the woods, but to wide open spaces where I can be fed by wonder and watered by delight—a place where I can breathe deeper than this. A place that isn’t plagued by transactions or measurements or keeping score. A place where I can get away and recover my life. A place where I might finally figure out what freedom looks like.
A place that might have been home all along.
I hope you’ll hold me to it, this prayer. It’s scary, but worth it. But more than holding me to it, I hope you’ll pray it with and for me. I cannot wait to see how the chapter called 2019 will unfold for both of us.
Amen. So be it. May it be so, so beautiful.