At the beginning of 2014, I was challenged to choose a word in which to help define my year. I chose the word Pray (or prayer).
Now, the year is almost over and I am spending much time reflecting and preparing to enter a new year. But as I reflect, I cannot help but dwell on the meaning of that word throughout my year.
I will be honest and tell you that I did not always abide by putting that word as a priority in what I was doing. In fact, I often acted without using prayer as my go-to. But I think I learned just as much (albeit in a painful manner) from not defining my day or my decisions with that word, as I learned when I did use the word.
What does it meant to pray or to be in prayer? I had that conversation this week with a good friend of mine. For me, it's simple: constant communication with God. And like any relationship, the more I communicate with Him, the more I hear what He wants to communicate to me. The more I see answers to my prayers. It's as simple as having a conversation and pouring out my heart.
Every part of my heart. The good, the dreams, the ugly, the hurt, the desperate, the love and all the other emotions and feelings and thoughts that fall in between those things.
In 2014, I saw countless answers to prayer, my prayers: I was given an amazing new job, one only God could have orchestrated. My family was blessed beyond measure with ways to update our home and pay off debts. I saw friends receive blessings which can only be explained by God's hand and answered prayers. I closed doors on necessary areas and God opened doors and made ways to show me Himself in new friendships and new opportunities.
At the same time, there were definite moments I did not choose to pray. Those moments had potential to lead to utter destruction for me. And yet, through the prayers of others, and eventually my own heart cries of prayer, I found myself for the first time really climbing out of grief, insecurity and uncertainty of who I am and meant to be. Those moments, while they could be looked at and viewed as completely dark, have actually led to the most amazing growth God has ever done for me. I leaned into Him in new ways and found what I have always believed, yet was really forced to investigate and hold onto and become.
2014 is almost gone. And while I chose the word pray(er) to sum up my year, as I close the year out, I will tell you that I learned so much from being in prayer, that I would sum up my year in one word: Growth.
I was stretched in ways I never expected.
I had to make decisions I never dreamed I would face.
I have learned new ways of doing things and have been mentored by some amazing people.
I have cried, laughed, talked, listened, watched and learned.
I launched into a new career, a dream career, one which I never expected to come to me this year.
I have learned to say no more effectively and yes more appropriately.
I found me. The me that has been there all along, but was hindered at times by others' opinions or words. The me that has been being shaped for many years, unbeknownst to my own heart. The me that loves to dream, has learned to say no, has chosen new paths and wants to make a difference, all without being what others try to tell me to be. I found the me that God has been trying to tell me for years is there.
And that is why, my friends, 2014 can be summed up with the word growth. Growth through prayer for certain. Prayers I have prayed. prayers others have prayed for me. What a beautiful, even if at times painful, year this has been. I am so excited to enter into 2015 . My goal list is long ( Um, perhaps too long, lol) but that's ok. That means adventures and more growth is to come ....
The end of the year is really just another day. But each day brings new mercies. And I simply cannot wait to continue my journey of prayer and growth as 2015 quickly approaches. What will my word for 2015 be??? Well... I am praying about that. Stay tuned for that ;) In the meantime, you will find me the next couple of days recounting the best moments of the year - from books, to races, to stories and so on....