new year, so what?

photo by Aditya Vyas

Hey, friends.

It’s been a little bit. What a wild time. I had this moment today, as I was stalking an old friend’s photos. I saw a large group picture of her and a bunch of friends in France. And like a ton of bricks, I was reminded how difficult everything has been for two years now. It feels like a few steps forward, and then falling off of a cliff kind of backward when it comes to normalcy.

I wanted to tell you Happy New Year – but I’ve determined I kind of hate the phrase. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the new year. I always have, and I probably always will. But it’s shifting each year, almost feeling like it shouldn’t be celebrated as a holiday because of the pressure we’ve placed on its significance.

Have you felt it a little bit? Most of us wait until the beginning of the year to start something new. Eating healthy, exercising, organizing, pursuing that dream. But there is absolutely nothing magical about the last number changing when we write the date. It is another passage of time, just like this minute to the next. This new year has come with absolutely no fanfare in my life. Due to quarantine and holidays, my kids were home for three straight weeks. It was hard. So many cancellations, so much flexibility for all of us. The new year doesn’t feel very new at all, in fact. I feel like I’m walking into it already spent all of my energy. Forget starting anything new.

How are we supposed to do it all? We’re supposed to take care of our bodies and our minds. Get enough sleep, meal prep, exercise. We are supposed to be organized so that we’re more efficient. We should limit our screen time and assess our goals and dreams but also be really present for our kids. We need to manage their diets and their screen time and and their emotions and their grades. We need to be present at work, give it our full attention but not too much attention that we bring it home. We need to be intentional with our husbands, intentional with our friends, clean our houses and our dishes and…

That all sounded a lot more depressing than I meant it. It is true, though.

I guess what we all need to release a little bit of is our expectations for ourselves.

Somehow, we’ve believed the lie that somehow we do not have enough of anything. We spend more than we need, we strive for affection, we spin to succeed.

In a word, it’s grace. It’s His grace that carries us, that gets us through. It’s His grace that gives us permission to mess it up. To limp into a new year, wondering if we’ll have what it takes this year. It’s His grace that gives us space to wonder even a little bit if He truly has enough for what we need.

Every year I ask God to direct me toward a word for the year. In the beginning of the year, I normally spend a lot of time focusing on it. Delving into scripture related to the word, really praying through it. As the year continues, I find it acting as an anchor when I find myself drifting. Reminding me what I committed to, and what God promised to walk with me through.

This doesn’t make me more spiritual than you. If you do not choose a word for the year, or if you want God to give you one, and it feels like He is silent, all of that is okay. Don’t let comparison get in the way here. Feel free to share mine.

This year, my word is contentment.

He’s been whispering it to me for a few months now. I find myself declaring it over my life, not begging God for it. He promises that in Him, I have everything I need.

When I am content, jealousy, envy and competition dissolve. I don’t need what they have. I don’t need to be noticed. The fruit of contentment is humility.

When I am content, my spending, my eating, my consumption in general isn’t out of control. Jesus satisfies my every need and I’m not reaching for anything else to fill me. The fruit of contentment is self-control.

When I am content, fears have no entry point. If I trust that my God is enough, what do I have to fear? The fruit of contentment is peace.

In contentment, I face the day with confidence and joy.

I trust that God supplies everything I need.

I don’t seek outside of what I already have to satisfy me – I seek Him only.

I don’t waste time wishing for more – buying more – unnecessarily filling up empty space.

I don’t seek approval from anyone –

I already have His.

Over and over, in my head and out loud, I am repeating: “I am content.”

So if you’re feeling a little distant, maybe a little unsteady, let Jesus be your anchor. Forget for the whole year, maybe just for right now. Right now, right here. In this breath. And then in the next one.

What does Jesus have that you need?

I mean, He has it all. He is it all. But you may need something specific to grasp.

He is:

our Rock

our Anchor

our Stronghold

our Refuge

our Defense

our Door

our Strength

It’s His grace that is poured out that gives us confidence to trust that He is enough.

If you’ve found yourself shuffling into 2022 believing the lie of “not enough,” take a minute today to switch your thoughts on all that He is.

Take a quick pause. And whether or not you choose contentment for a word of the year, let’s pray for it now together.

A Prayer for Contentment:

Jesus, in You I am content.

You satisfy my every need.

You are my portion and all my righteousness.

I live today out of an assured belovedness

I am Yours, and You are mine.

Every good and perfect thing comes from You.

I lack nothing.

You are my Shepherd, my Safety, my Provider, my Affirmation;

You save me from myself.

Rescue me from the lie of “more”

More money, more recognition, more coffee, more food, more success – more of me.

Redeem me from myself and hide me in You.

I worship You alone.

I trust in You alone.

I rest in You alone.

Who do I have in heaven but you?

And I desire nothing on earth but You.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

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