New Year’s Eve of 2014 I decided to give up the goals, resolutions, and the laundry list of “things” I wanted to accomplish in the year coming up and trade them all for a word. A single word that I felt would define my year.
I was new-ish married at the time, no kiddos, and had just started a doctorate program (a lifelong dream). Leading up to that night I was making some life decisions that had filled me with doubt and anxiousness. So, instead, I spoke the word “peace” over my life and over the decisions moving into 2015. Little did I know how much peace I would really be seeking in that new year. Only a few months into 2015, my husband and I found out that we would be moving to Fort Worth, Texas to start a five year journey of medical residency. The nitty gritty of the medical training journey is another post for another day. But, the gist of its relevance is that 1) we didn’t want to move to Texas and 2) residency is hard. So I wanted and needed so badly to be at peace with what we had to believe was God’s plan for us. That was my first go at choosing a word of the year and honestly, I thought it turned out great. So I did it again and again...
2016 - Joy. The year we were furthest from family and suffered a miscarriage.
2017 - Freedom. The year we bought our first home and welcomed one of our sweet girls into this world.
2018 - Discipline. The year I finished my doctorate, began our journey with Hebrews, and fell into a depression.
Things took a turn leading up to 2019. If you notice, there was a trend I started to pick up on in this whole “word of the year” thing. For a lot of people, choosing a word feels like setting a course for the year. I would agree. But, for me, it brought some pretty profound and even unanticipated circumstances that, while God ultimately used for His glory, didn’t always feel good. So when the only word that came to my heart and mind at the end of 2018 was “exhaustion”... I said, hold up! I’m not about to speak that over my life, God!?
It’s really only now that I’m seeing and understanding why He allowed the word “exhaustion” to be at the forefront of my heart and mind. At the close of the decade, I was exhausted. For ten years prior I was hustling, finishing two degrees, getting married, having children, and saying yes to too. Much. Stuff. I think He wanted me to finally lay some things down, go to counseling, and let go of my personal expectations and standards of success so that I could step into this new decade… into this new season.
So that’s the second part of this story… My word for 2020 is SEASONS. I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive to go back to God and ask Him what the word for my year would be. I was scared and fearful that it would be another word that I didn’t want to hear. And frankly, since I’m being honest. I was a little underwhelmed! Seasons?! Seasons, God??? That’s not fancy and sparkly like discover or empower!? It’s not classic and simple like hope or joy?! Sigh. So I did what any reasonable Christian does… I tried to find an alternative option to what God was saying and went to Google to find it!
Siri, what is the definition of seasons? (And the prettier synonyms for it?!)
Turns out there is not a prettier word for something that God has so perfectly orchestrated. Seasons are about a process. Seasons are about balance. What makes a season a season is the process of beginning and ending. A season makes something better. A season is an opportunity to slow down, to speed up, to mature, and to taste just right.
In Egypt, the seasons were marked and known to the people based on the rising and falling of the River Nile. There were three specific seasons that resulted from this process. Two of them you probably have some idea about. The season of growth or emergence (why was this not an option!?) and the season of harvest. I think we’ve all heard the sermon or seen the IG post that reminds us that there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. But, what about a time for flooding??
The season of inundation or flooding was a time when the water would rise and flood the land for months. Not days y’all, months! This period was usually between September and January and always comes before the planting and the harvest. According to Wikipedia, “this event was vital to the people because the waters left behind fertile silt and moisture, which were the source of the land’s fertility.” And fertile land was vital to the planting of crops needed to sustain their way of life.
I think it’s safe to say that at the close of 2019 I (and maybe many of you) felt exhausted from being inundated. Flooded with the work, the laundry, the play dates, the dinner dates. Flooded with the notifications, the alerts, the endless newsfeed. Flooded with the lies of inadequacy, inability, insignificance. Flooded with the hard challenges of sickness, expectations, circumstances.
But thank you, God for the seasons! What felt like a giant flood in 2019 was in fact a giant flood. A flood of hustle and hurry from an entire decade culminated in sick kids, crazy work schedules, and feeling like someone stole baby Jesus out of the manger! It was also a flood of good things. A flood of hope and joy from our growing family! A flood of provision and God’s faithfulness in our work. A flood of friendship and community that is helping us be and love better.
So now, God gives us the season of emergence. The waters recede and the land is left fertile. And a new season begins as we prepare for the harvest!