I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve made them in the past, only to be disappointed when I didn’t keep them or frustrated at myself for not doing what I resolved to do. Sure I want to go to the gym more, cook healthy meals more often, fuss at my kids less, blog more, read more, etc. I found that making a list of these things only left me feeling more empty and let down when I couldn’t keep up.
A few years ago a family I really admire told me about something they do the first of every new year. Each member of their family chooses a word for the year. A word that describes what they pray the year will bring and a reminder of their hope for that new year. I really, really liked this idea. It seemed doable and easy. So two years ago I started doing the same. I was really surprised at how often I thought of my word. It would come to mind regularly, or I’d see my word in random places, reminding me of my prayers and hopes for that year. I think most importantly being reminded of my word reminded me to pray.
This year I chose the word renewal. That’s what I feel like I need, not just this year, but year after year. 2016 was the hardest year yet in my life. And realistically I know that as I age and as those around me age, I’ll have harder years. I know I’ll experience years with deep grief and loss, years that may have illness or injury, years with difficult parenting challenges and years with hardships in relationships. But this past year felt like it drained just about everything good out of me. I was stretched, frazzled and carried burdens I didn’t know I was capable of carrying. However, even in the junk and the hard stuff, the Lord proved faithful, as He always does. And while He didn’t always take away the storm we were walking through, He did provide strength, comfort and guidance. And He wants to teach me to trust and obey in the midst of it all. I’m getting the trust part down… it’s the obeying part that I struggle with.
I love fresh starts, like most people. His mercies are new every morning and now we start the beginning of a brand new year. It’s exciting. Hoping for a better year and not knowing what the year will bring. I guess that can be a little scary too, depending on how you look at it. My word holds a lot of significance to me. Renewal. The definition of renewal according to Merriam-Webster online is: “the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.” Ever felt worn out, run-down or broken? If you’re like me you’re screaming YES! Daily? Sometimes! So renewal is the replacing of those things. Wow. Scripture is full of verses about renewing and renewal! I’ll give you some at the end of this post.
In choosing the word Renewal, I know I have to let God renew the areas of my life that need repaired. The places that are broken, dried-up or that need pruned away. Places in my heart, relationships…my parenting needs renewal. Being more intentional. More loving. More selfless. My mind and thoughts need renewed, regularly. My marriage and my prayer life need renewal. Refreshed, remade, replenished. And I know that the only true renewal comes from the Renew-er.
When I asked followers on Facebook to share their 2017 words with me, I was very encouraged. Here are some of them: Joy, Balance, Energy, Optimism, Intentional, Contentment, Transformation, Reconciliation, Organization & Growth. I love these. I love the hope I hear in these words. It’s comforting knowing that others want to allow the Lord to make changes in their lives, too.
So as we start a fresh, new year let’s give thanks for the year that has passed, press on towards a new one and allow the Lord to have His way this year.
P.S. Here are those verses I promised:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:10
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Sprit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:5-6
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20