As the year forges ahead and is almost at the end, I've started reflecting on my word for the year. My word for this year was faithful. When I settled on that word at the end of last year, I had no idea of the challenges that lay ahead. I didn't know that I would be hanging onto that word with a white-knuckled grip at some points through the year. 2017 has brought challenge after challenge for both me and my family. It has felt like the hits keep coming. The word faithful took on a deeper meaning in my life and my walk with God. I was so glad that I had made the decision to have the word engraved on a bracelet to keep it at the forefront of my mind throughout the year.
It could be easy to have a look at all that has happened this year and feel like faithful is the furthest from the truth. if I look on the surface I could wonder where God has been in the midst of all the difficulties. I have had friends ask me how I can still be at such peace when telling them about all the latest developments. That is where the faithfulness of God has come in. Life has been tough. They have been tears and heartache. The difference is I have not been buried by these emotions. I have felt God near and sensed his strength and sustaining presence deep within me. God's faithfulness is not measured by everything in my life going smoothly or circumstances turning out the way I would want them to. It can seem cliche to say but His ways are higher than our ways; He is not in the business of taking out all the rough spots in our lives. He is more interested in developing our character, our resilience and especially our relationship with him.
It can be easy to write those words but harder to live them out. Knowing the idea that God is faithful in my mind is different to believing in my heart and living as though it is true. At times this year singing songs about how faithful God is or even just declaring that God is faithful has been an act of obedience, a way of reminding my own spirit of the truth. I have needed the reminders to take my eyes off the circumstances around me and hold onto the greater truth. I don't know what circumstances you are facing in your life today. I know that these words can seem hollow or even anger you when you are facing so much pain. I can only speak of my experience seeing these truths lived out over this year. There have been times when I have not wanted to acknowledge God's faithfulness. I just wanted him to fix things. I know what that is like. I encourage you to seek the truth for yourself. The circumstances may not change. The way we walk through them can.
The word faithful took on a double meaning for me. I have been reflecting on my own faithfulness throughout this year. Do I keep my word? Am I consistent? Do I fulfil my responsibilities? If I'm honest, the answer is not always yes. This has challenged me this year. I have wrestled with the idea of what is being faithful and what is stubbornly persisting when a change should be made. I recognise that there are times when an idea does need to be laid down or an expectation is not healthy. I don't have all the answers yet. This will be an ongoing learning process in my life. I recognise that I can be far more critical of myself than I need to be. It makes me smile when I look through a box I was given at the end of last year. It contains words that people close to me have written about me. Faithful appeared in several of them. Others can see that In me so why do I struggle to see that in myself? Maybe I hide my flaws from others better than I think. Or maybe I magnify them out of proportion.
Did you have a word for this year? Do you remember what it is? I have been choosing a word for the year for the past few years. Often I have forgotten what it is long before the middle of the year. This year has been different. I have seen the impact of that regular reflection on a concept. I would love to hear your reflections on your word for the year. Has it made a difference to your life? I haven't found my word for next year yet. Honestly, I'm a little nervous to see what it might be. I am stepping into greater responsibility. Some of the challenges from this year will continue into next. What word will I need to hang onto in the midst of all this?
Do you need a dose of encouragement? I have collated all of my October posts on "For your encouragement" into an ebook free for you. Click here to get your copy.