Just One Word

I used to roll my eyes when I would see yet another social media post about someone choosing a word for the year. I thought it was silly. How could choosing a word to focus on for an entire year help anyone? But then last year at this time I was so broken and parts of my life seemed hopeless and I figured what could it hurt?

Since I had never chosen a word for the year before, I did research on Google and found a Word of the Year Generator – which I unfortunately cannot share the link for because that was a year ago and I apparently did not save it. I used the Generator and was given the word Restore.

Restore. What a perfect word for what lay before me – a land mine of a life that I wasn’t sure I would survive. It was enough to spark hope in my heart – just enough hope to face the coming year.

Last year was hard. There were definitely good things throughout the year, but overall, it was very challenging. I had to give up my dogs that I loved (I literally had no real choice unless I wanted to be homeless), my classes for school more often than not ceased to be enjoyable and I wanted to quit (but I didn’t!), I got divorced from a 15 year marriage that I thought would be my forever, and I had to deal with the fallout from the trauma for me and my kids from that relationship that wasn’t at all what it looked like from the outside.

Restore. God definitely brought about restoration in my life this last year. I went from being on three different anxiety medications – one as needed, two daily – to next to lowest dose of only one of them (with my doctor’s help – never try to do it alone), and I should be completely weaned off anxiety meds entirely within six months. The anxiety and depression that plagued me before I left my marriage is completely gone. I have moments of sadness or feeling anxious – but they are normal emotions; not strong enough to require a diagnosis.

I was not allowed to keep my dogs but we were allowed to get our bearded dragons because they don’t make a lot of noise and they are not destructive. I still want to have dogs again someday, but you’d be surprised just how much my little scaly babies like to snuggle. Our dragons have brought us a lot of joy and laughter, and will continue to do so.

I passed all of my classes and am set to finish this fall. I will have to really focus and become more organized in order to do so – I will be doing school full time, working, and being mom. Fortunately I do school online so I am still home with my girls.

At the beginning of 2019, I had a good job, but in June I was able to start a career-worthy job. I have been told multiple times that I would make a great supervisor, but I cannot commit to that level just yet. My kids come first, and I also need to graduate before I could consider something like that. When I left my marriage and my girls and I moved into a domestic violence shelter, I really didn’t know how we would make it. I knew I would do what it took, but I never thought I would have a job that I love – one that is so much more than paying the bills. And while I don’t make the big bucks, I thoroughly enjoy what I do.

At the beginning of the year I was trying to find a church but just couldn’t find one that was the right fit for my family. A few months ago I found home, and I am so grateful that God led us there!

I’m not going into details on my finances, but suffice it to say that God is helping me there too.

And finally, when I left my marriage, I lost friendships because I finally stopped protecting a lie. I understand now that they were not my true friends in the first place. And beyond that, I have made new friends and grown closer to old friends that I had barely been in touch with before.

Restore was such a perfect word for last year that I decided to do a word for the year again this year. But now that I’m a seasoned pro (haha), I chose my own word. Truthfully, I was driving to work and singing along with my worship music playlist, enjoying my time with God, when the word came to me. That word is Shift.

Shift. According to a search on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, the first option for shift is as follows:

Definition of shift

transitive verb

1: to exchange for or replace by another CHANGE

2a: to change the place, position, or direction of MOVE

b: to make a change in (place)

3: to change phonetically

Shift. When my attitude sucks, I will shift to a better attitude. When I am being overly negative, I will shift my thoughts. When what I am doing isn’t working, I will shift to a new way of thinking and doing. I will even do a silly hand movement if it helps!

This year will have its own challenges, but I am determined to grow; determined to keep moving forward. While I choose to be content, I refuse to sit still and stagnate.

And while I’m at it, I choose to have a more open mind to the things that seem silly to me. Because they just might work.

When You Feel The Most Alone

Loneliness screams. It is not a silent, sneaky thing that gradually envelops you over time. You can think that you are happy, that you are doing well, and then loneliness begins its shrill keening.

Loneliness suffocates. You celebrate your freedom, you breathe it in like fresh air, and then loneliness crushes the air from your lungs.

Loneliness stifles. You love who you are, you feel secure and passionate about your future. You are unafraid of the path that lies before you. But loneliness takes hold and convinces you that you are not enough alone. That part of you is missing and if you don’t find that missing piece, you will never be fulfilled.

Loneliness is a monster in the dark, a shroud to cover your still living form. It stalks through your life and tells you that there’s nothing for you here.

The lies Loneliness tells….

The lies Loneliness tells sound true. Truer than anything you have ever heard or known.

But there is One who sticks closer than a brother. One who was willing to lay down His life on your behalf. One who sings a sweet song of deliverance over you, who waits to comfort you in the dark. One who says that you are enough. Right now. As you are. One who sees you, flaws and all, and loves you still.

How do I know? Because I have been there. I still have moments when I find myself there again. I feel the agonizing pain of loneliness; I’ve struggled with wondering if I really can ever be enough on my own. I have woken alone from terrors in the night and longed for arms that could hold me close, and a voice that could tell me that things would be okay.

I won’t say that God’s grace removes all my pain. I won’t say that the sacrifice Jesus made makes me feel so incredibly complete that I don’t ever fear being alone. I won’t pretend that I never have doubts.

But it’s not because God’s grace is not enough. It’s not that the sacrifice Jesus made did not finish its work. It’s that God created me human. It’s that it’s not good for man to be alone. We were designed for companionship, and designed to long for that companionship.

So when Loneliness rears its ugly head, I lift mine. I am a child of the King, and I am who He says I am. I am enough. I am beautiful, and fun, and compassionate. And most of all, I am not alone. I may not hear His voice or feel His touch, but I know that He is there. And I know His shoulders are strong enough to carry my burdens.

He can do the same for you. He can show you that your worth is far more valuable than rubies or the finest gold. But it’s up to you. God won’t force His love on you. But I guarantee you that He is there, waiting with arms flung wide; waiting for you to run to Him.

Will you take a chance on Him?

What do you have to lose?