A Theme for 2019

A Theme for 2019

Happy New Year and welcome to 2019! I’ve never been one to get excited about a new year, but after the last few months of struggling through the end of 2018, I have been more than ready for a fresh start.  

For the past several years, I’ve prayed about God giving me a theme or a word/phrase to focus around the new year. Last year my word was thrive; I had been shed of a large amount of baggage the year before and finally felt free enough to not only pursue my own endeavors, but give every part of myself to them. To grow. To thrive (also hence the title of my blog hehe). This year, however, has been trickier. As the last few months of 2018 unwound, I was battling difficulty from what seemed like all fronts. Thankfully, I was growing and God was teaching, but I was also overwhelmed by all the seeds He’d begun to sow in such a short amount of time. It made things difficult to understand how merely one word could be pressed on my heart to encompass all of the ways in which God was working.

Yet, after praying over the last week, I believe God has simplified all of my choices down to one word: open.

I’ve mentioned repeatedly throughout some of the posts my tendency to ‘white-knuckle’ my life, to hang onto everything with a death grip out of a fear of losing control. As I’ve taken time to reflect over 2018 in its entirety, I can see the pattern of God teaching me to release this need to control and replace it with trust for him, guiding my hands open slowly, one finger at a time until what’s left is an open hand. Gentle, soft, willing, no longer clenched into an air-tight fist. There is peace for me in this image, a lightness. A deep breath of finally being able to let go. Freedom.

I know this habit of closing myself off from God stems ultimately from fear, a nemesis I’ve faced from a young age. The crippling monster in the back of my head that tells me I’m not good enough, things will never change, and I don’t deserve the promises God has made to me; thus breeding the need to control every inkling of my life: nutrition, fitness, sleep, time, academics, people, and the list goes on. And when these elements are balanced and executed perfectly, shame and guilt rear their ugly heads, feeding the lies that fear has already planted into the core of my beliefs. But did you catch the key word there? LIES. Lies fuel the fire of the trifecta: fear, control, and shame. 

As I’ve been going to counseling over the last seven weeks, these lies have been exposed. And as I’m better understanding the way the Enemy has morphed my thoughts, I am beginning to hand over these pieces to the Lord to heal them, to place them back in the order they were meant to be, replacing the lies with the truth of His love.

And that’s why openness is so essential; it creates room. Room for His closeness. Room for the healing and restoration I so desperately need. Room for His blessings and my trust in Him to flourish. It leaves room for the lush, full abundance that awaits all of us if we are will to let go, stay open, and allow God the space to work, because one of my greatest fears is to hold onto everything so tightly and scream at God so loudly not to take what He’s given me away, that I’ll miss out on His still small voice whispering promises of love to me. I’ll miss the storehouses of blessings that He wishes He could have given to me in this life but couldn’t because I wouldn’t allow it. I’m not usually one to promote FOMO, but I’m afraid of missing out on what God has for me.

All that to say, I want to stay open this year. I want to leave margins for the Lord to work. For Him to bring the understanding I need to be healed and restored. Space to sit back and just acknowledge what’s going on and say, “I’m ok with that.” Space to feel deeply, since I often lose touch with my emotions during the grind of holding on too tightly. Space to just breathe. To just be.

I don’t know what word is on your heart for this year. Maybe you haven’t thought of this idea at all. But I pray that you seek God and ask Him, Lord, what is it that you have for me this year? What are you teaching and how can I be a part of this?

To end this post, I’d like to share the verse that I’ve connected to my word for this year and I pray it over you today:

“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever, and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3: 16–21 (ESV).

May you leave space to receive peace in your inner being, to receive knowledge and understanding of His love for you, and to receive the fullness of God and His will for you. Amen.  

One thought on “A Theme for 2019

  1. Hello Ashley, and Happy New Year!

    Thank you for your post. As I read it I was struck by the idea of control – the idea of having and not having it. I have come to believe that I both have and don’t have control each and every day. I have control of the decisions and plans I make, of my behavior, of my choices. At the same time, I have no control over anything or anyone else. The less time I spend thinking about what I have no control over the more time I have to focus on my Higher Power’s voice in my life. Each day becomes doing the “next right thing”, the “one thing at a time” outlook.

    I also have come to the belief that I am good enough, period. I did not always believe this. Now it just makes sense. I am the only me there is and ever will be.
    Being who I am to the fullest may serve as an indiscernible tiny speck of energy in the whole of the universe but it is a real force for good and love in my immediate relationships and my community. Letting go of the doubt about my worthiness frees up all that space in the mind and heart for doing God’s work. My prayer is to do the next right thing. Personally, this is to let go and let God work in my life (by being responsible for my life choices), and with others, doing the next right thing means not only to love others as I would be loved, but, as we learned in MCCounseling class, to love others as they would be loved.

    Nothing that has ever been “taken away” from me has ever actually been mine to begin with. I have appreciated the idea that the glass is already broken, a Buddhist thought, I believe. The act of holding on to the glass tightly so as not the lose it is to hold on to a reality that doesn’t exist. Only now exists. I am either worried about my soul or I am living the best life I can live but I can’t do both. Well, that’s my musing for now, anyway! I am a work in progress.
    Thank you for the space to share!

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