2017 was a hard year for me; my hardest yet.
I have had to rely on everything I’ve learned and been taught in my life; things that I have known since I was a child, yet, up until this year, had little opportunity to put in to practice.
Were it not for the grace of God, I would not be writing this. I would not be at peace. I would not have joy. I would not be okay.
But God is gracious. He gives us so many great gifts to help us in our times of need and struggle in life.
Family, friends, even strangers, who pray for, encourage, and support. Sometimes they said exactly what I needed to hear; sometimes they said nothing. But countless people over the last year have impacted me and helped me to carry on. Some were new friends, some old. Some were in my life frequently; others I had not heard from in years. I wish I could thank each person individually, but it would take too long and I’m sure I’d miss someone. Just know that I treasure you, and you have helped me more than you likely realize.
The promises of scripture have become so much more real to me. The hope that I’ve found in the Word of God is matchless. I didn’t realize it was possible to find such comfort. Even so, it was not easy. It’s rarely easy to spend consistent time in God’s way, but it’s far more challenging in the midst of severe trial. The temptation to ignore the scriptures was great. It still can be. Sometimes I’m not sure I want to be reminded of what I need to know, do, believe. There were plenty of days when I forced myself to read the scripture, forced myself through the chapter, through the book, and didn’t get much out of it. But the practice itself, as I look back, was instrumental in me overcoming this year.
A Narrow Focus.
Doing the next right thing is one of the most underestimated tools God has given us; the opportunity to narrow our focus and take each thing as it comes. Not over-thinking it, not trying to figure it out. Believing that God is good and He knows the ending allows us to just keep doing what’s next. Pick your foot up. Put it down. Repeat. Do what’s next. Take a shower. Eat breakfast. Get in the car. Go to work. One. Step. At. A. Time. Before you know it, you’ll look up and look back and see how God has led you through a maze of grace.
I hope you will never underestimate the power of music in your life. Power for good. Power for evil. Power to build up. Power to destroy. Music has always been a great source of hope and encouragement in life, helping me to stay focused on the Lord. How much more so this year! But oh, how much harder. There are still a few Christian songs I cannot listen to; the memories are too great, the pain too raw. There are other Christian songs that, had I chosen to dwell on their lyrics, would have actually made my battles that much harder. But praise the Lord, there are some beautiful, strong, amazing songs that became the soundtrack of my life this year, helping me to fix my thoughts where they belong, helping me to keep my heart on the right track, helping to keep my feet on the right path.
2017 was the hardest year of my life.
Without the grace of God, I could not have made it this year.
Without the incredible people that God surrounded me with, I could not have made it this year.
Without the promises and hope in the Scriptures that God encouraged me with, I could not have made it this year.
Without the discipline to narrow my gaze, to take one step at a time, I could not have made it this year.
And without music to remind me of the truth and help me to focus on the majesty of my King and Creator over the pain and trails of life, I could not have made it this year.
This is how I fight my battles.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.