Last year I chose “grace” as my word for 2014. My goal was to believe these words: “I don’t need to try to be good enough, because Jesus is enough.” Little did I know how that one word would define my year. Grace to get through the stress of senior year. Grace to hand over my fears about college to God. Grace to be humble when God did incredibly more than I could ever imagine. Grace to adjust to a new life at college. And grace in all of my raw and unglamorous moments.
Last year I was challenged by my youth pastor to pick a word to describe how I wanted to live that year. 2014 was all about learning to live gracefully in the midst of life’s ungraceful moments. It was a year for learning to laugh at myself, to find my identity in Jesus, and then to be more confident in who God created me to be. I’m still processing the year, but I do know that it was a year of discovery and transition. The past year was filled with the most change I’ve ever experienced. Looking back, it was one of the best years. In a way, I’m sad to see it go.
Yet today is January 1, 2015.
Time for a new word. This year I choose to persist. When I think of the word persist, I picture someone pushing through obstacles or holding on to a rope that is being pulled upward. I think of an end goal: getting through the obstacles or reaching solid ground. To me, persisting is not about sitting still waiting for the trials to end or waiting to withstand the pressures. Persisting is about actively fighting for something. “Persist” requires effort, work, and motivation. And to effectively persist, one must have hope for what one is fighting towards.
In all honesty, 2014 was an easy year. Yes, it was filled with stress, big decisions, goodbyes, occasional homesickness, and finals. But it was also filled with wonderful friends, good news, laughter, music, dancing—all leading to a happy heart.
Yet I also know what I struggled with last year and I can already feel the pressures of 2015. I am looking forward to new adventures and new challenges. At the same time, I know that nothing can equal the past semester. This next year, I need to work hard to achieve my goals. I need to persist.
Persist in school. I eased into college this past semester; now it’s time to buckle down. I’ve set some big challenges for myself. The goal is to not get caught up in the stress, but to instead work diligently knowing that the effort will pay off in the future.
Persist in friendships. First semester was about meeting lots of new people; now it’s time to develop those friendships. Deep and lasting friendships require intentionality. This semester will require me to determine who I should invest time in and how to strengthen those relationships.
Persist in prayer. Recently I have been challenged to pray with more intentionality. I want to pray with expectation. I want to start praying for things that I stopped praying for in the past because of forgetfulness or discouragement. I want to start praying for the requests that have felt too insignificant or even too huge. My single “New Year’s Resolution” for 2015 is to block out an hour each month to pray. It sounds like a little but will take effort to accomplish.
Persist in spiritual growth. I feel like I’ve reached a plateau in my faith, where I am doing the same routine and not stretching myself. I want to rediscover what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ, and like any other relationship, I need to put in work. As part of this exploration, I will be starting a new blog series with my friend Ellie. (More on that in the future…)
So here’s to a new year, no new starts, but simply pressing forward into God’s faithfulness.
– – Phebe