Perseverance. This is the word I chose for 2020.
I chose this word coming out of 2019…
The fall of 2019 was one of the worst seasons I’ve experienced on my own. All summer I had put my past behind me, lived life to the fullest, and was determined that the coming semester would be the best. Instead it became a time where the living arrangements I had were consistently changing, my best friend and roommate of two+ years left with no explanation with no one to replace her, RATS! of all things, RATS! my house was infested and I didn’t sleep for weeks, there were consistent things that popped up with the two closest people in my life, I gave into the very thing I walked away from in the summer, and because of the previous decision I pushed away the two closest people in my life, although they so desperately wanted to help, and was fighting not to fail classes. I struggled so heavily with anxiety, loneliness, worthlessness, and over all just lost my hope that life could be anything more than it was. Totally overrun by emotions, no personal relationship with my KING, I was at a complete loss as to how to get out of this rabbit hole. Long story short it was a bad time.* I went home for Christmas break which was a much needed change of pace and scenery, but also knowing that at home awaited the conviction I had pushed away for months. I am so thankful for parents and siblings who fill that house with prayer and Jesus! By the end of the month I had determined that I wanted a personal relationship with my KING back and that I knew I had to give up the thing I continued returning to. So, I did… partially. The sinning stopped, but the toxic (that I didn’t want to admit was toxic) habit didn’t. But I’ll come back to that.
SO! Going into 2020, perseverance was the word because wow! had I been through it and I didn’t go through it well. So, 2020 was going to be different! I was going to focus on persevering well and not fail like the months before! Are you laughing? Cause I definitely am! 2020 hit and this word seemingly went out the window. In the first few months of 2020, before the world turned upside down, God brought the toxicity to my attention and through an action of repentance I had never experienced before, I gave it to him. The next month was hard, but learning how to step back into rhythm with my KING felt so refreshing. Then 2020 hit for everyone. The loss that followed felt like an undertow that I didn’t know how to escape from. My community, gone. My roommates, gone. My people, gone. My church, online. Final Greek life events, gone. Graduation, postponed. Closure from my final year at Lee, gone. And in the midst of the waves, I found that my toxic, sin filled habit worked so nicely to escape from the chaos. After a month of escaping and avoiding I had perfected these things so well that I managed to fully avoid conviction, emotion, or any feeling at all. It wasn’t until over Easter break (back in my Spirit filled house) that my body broke down in the form of a panic attack and my mind couldn’t even comprehend that my body was reacting to the stress and anxiety of escaping, avoiding, and deliberately disobeying God in so many ways. Needless to say, God got my attention and in the next week, I emotionlessly put down the habit and walked away. The following months started with asking God to break my heart in repentance and heal it so that I could feel again. It was also a time of working with God to uproot the deep beliefs of unworthiness, worthlessness, lack of value, and not being enough. It eventually was filled with so many tears, but it was also filled with an intimacy with God I had never experienced before. I don’t know that I have ever desperately wanted anything more than just Him. The shut down was the best thing that could have happened. I had so much time to simply spend time in God’s presence and learn to dance in step with Him again and I thought I did it! I persevered! I made it! Thanks for the word God, lesson learned! Little did I know, this was only the beginning.
The summer was filled with a new confidence, excitement, making friends well, building a community that I had never experienced before, and building new types of relationships I had never attempted before. This brought so much joy and happiness into my life! Going into the fall I was excited and hope filled! Who cared if covid existed? Who cared if graduate school might be hard? I had my person and my best friend! Who could need anything different? Apparently, me.
Over the next month God asked me to hand him something I was not prepared to give up and had no plans to walk away from. The thing God blessed with me, He asked for back. Extremely reluctantly, I released it. Once I did, I fell apart. A relationship had become my everything! My security, my hope. So, I clung to the obvious next source of security, hope, and love, my best friend! Within a month, God pulled my dependence from her as well. One heart break on top another, and oh yeah, graduate school is definitely so much harder than undergraduate work! But God has so beautifully taught me so much through these circumstances and brought people into my life that have so graciously walked with me through this, continually pointing me back to Him.
So, obviously I had plenty of opportunity to persevere throughout this past year. But honestly, I had forgotten about my word until today. I was looking at the six note cards that surround the mirror I look into every day…
1. perseverance: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. –> to suffer well.
2. to suffer: to submit or be forced to endure.
3. endurance: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; the act or an instance of enduring or suffering. –> James 1:2-4
4. James 1:2-4: “Consider it great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing”. –> Romans 5:3-5
5. Romans 5:3-5: “We also rejoice in our afflictions because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us”. –> Hope.
6. Suffering –> Endurance –> Character –> Hope
Throughout this past year I have not completed this cycle well. And yet, God taught me what it meant to persevere, to suffer well, to endure, and to place my hope in Him. I am so amazed at how God walked with me through this cycle without me even realizing it. I think I didn’t realize it because I assumed I could persevere with my own planning and coping and strength. So, when trials and afflictions came, I didn’t take joy or rejoice cause I looked at my own strength and said, I can’t make it. In the month or so following my break ups (boyfriend and best friend), I would call my mom when I woke up every morning telling her I couldn’t do it that day. That I didn’t know how to even get out bed. Being the prayer warrior she is, she prayed for me then lovingly told me the truth that I could and that with God’s strength I could not only make it but conquer the day. Due to my stubbornness, it took about three weeks of calling every morning, for it to begin to sink in. Once I began to look at the truth of God’s strength, and daily ask Him for it, that’s when I began to endure and eventually do so well. I am also beginning to see the character He has built and the Hope I work hard to cling to as my security.
I want to encourage you that as you go into this new year and begin to start new rhythms and work toward the new things of this year that you would stay aware of what you are asking God to do in your life! I wish I would have had placed my focus to see what God was doing in the moment and then, let myself trust that He was working everything out for my good.
* So, true to the words of Taylor Swift’s Long Story Short, it was a bad time, but I survived. Throughout the crap of 2019 God placed a new roommate in my life who is a dear friend to this day and graciously walked with me through all of it! He grounded me in my church community and I’m seeing the results of that now! He worked on one of the two close people I mentioned and in that season prepared us for the incredible friendship we have now! And He chased me down and brought me back to Him! So, although I did not persevere well in 2019, God was still there throughout it all.
Just a Thought From the King’s Daughter