my word for 2022...
That’s my word for 2022.
It’s the word that God has whispered to me over and over and over again.
He has whispered it in those moments of prayer where I’m practically berating Him (think kicking, screaming, yelling, and red in the face. Throwing an all out temper tantrum ((not really, but really)). Questioning Him - Why haven’t I seen my prayers come to fruition? Why am I waiting? Why does it feel like you’ve left God?
There have been several points this past year I’ve asked Him exactly those questions. And do you know what His response to me has been?
I’ve carried some of these worries or fears for so long they’ve become almost like security blankets. And if I am being honest, sometimes in the moments of truly letting go of worries/anxieties, I feel naked and panicky without them.
It’s like trying to do a trust fall. Have you ever done team building exercises? You stand in front and hold your arms out to the side while someone stands behind you prepared to catch you before you hit the ground. Sounds easy in theory.
You take a deep breath and let yourself fall back, trusting you’ll be caught, but mid-fall you try to catch yourself because you doubt. The what ifs pop up.
What if no one is actually there to catch me?
What if they aren’t strong enough and we both go down? What if they only catch one arm and not the other?
And what ends up happening? You actually fall.
If only you were able to pan out farther and see the picture clearly. That person (hint: it's Jesus) is there. Strong, and waiting to catch you. You cannot fall.
How does that relate to surrendering? For me, it means God has been unraveling that security blanket made up of stress, worry, and anxiety one thread at a time. I’ll be honest, it is beyond terrifying. It has exposed me and has felt incredibly vulnerable and raw. It has forced me to rely on God.
what scripture says...
Psalms 34:4 reads, “I sought the Lord and He heard me and took away my fears.”
God gave me this verse two years ago. I think He was slowly preparing me because He knew I wasn’t ready to confront some of the things I have been sorting out in myself over the past year. He knew where I was headed and gave me encouragement. He said, “Listen, Emma, I know where you are going is hard, but if you give it to Me, I will take it. You do not have to carry this burden alone.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” we are reminded of in Matthew 11:28-30.
If we don’t let God unravel that blanket and surrender. How will we ever truly trust Him?
It’s scary and it’s so hard to do. But God wants you. He wants the whole version of you. He wants an intimate relationship. He wants to know you and hug you. To quote best selling author Blake Guichet, “God not only loves you, He likes you.”
Maybe this doesn’t specifically apply to you, but I’m willing to bet it does to quite a few of us.
But you think, “Emma, I don’t even know where to start? Do this with me.”
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath. Let your mind wander. What comes up?
Your to-do list? A worry and/or anxiety? Any other assortment of problems or things you have to deal with?
So these things come up, now what?
If you don’t know how to surrender, you are in good company. God has been asking me over and over to surrender. But I’ve had a difficult time comprehending what that means? My response each and every time He’s told me to surrender is… How?
a few practical things...
I felt stuck in that place until recently. I was talking on the phone with my mother-in-law and I said, “I don’t know why God keeps telling me to surrender. I don’t even know how to do that.” She simply responded by saying, “if you don’t know then ask Him.”
I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to ask. If God is asking me to do something, then surely He is going to give me a way to do it.
It’s hard for me to surrender and I know I am not alone in that. These are a few practical things that have helped me.
- Read your Bible. No really, actually read it. It sounds so simple and if you’ve been in church any length of time I’m sure you’ve heard it. My struggle is I feel like I’m hearing God wrong. In the past I’ve told myself that I can’t trust that I’m hearing God’s voice correctly. Those were times that I was not in the Word. How can you know God’s voice if you’ve never learned it? The Bible is this amazing resource God has given to us to know Him intimately. We don’t have to guess God’s heart, we can know it.
- Practice Gratitude. A practice I started doing every morning is writing down three things I’m grateful for. Again it sounds so simple, but it is such a powerful reminder of all the good things God is working in my life. Especially when it's in small details throughout the day.
- Serve & Be in Community with one another. I’ll be honest this is an area I am still working on. One of the things I do when I’m anxious or overwhelmed is withdraw from the people around me and go into myself, in my own warm cozy bubble. It feels safe there, but I can tell you it is incredibly lonely and has only served to make my worries and anxieties increase. It is uncomfortable, but I am pushing myself to go to community groups within my church. Actually talk face to face with friends and family members. I have been prioritizing relationships and connections and have seen significant benefit to that. God created us to be in relationship with one another. We aren’t meant to do life alone.
An additional practical thing I will add on this list is prayer. Prayer has been very underrated, but prayer is so powerful. Prayer has given me the formula to intentionally and purposefully surrender my fears and anxieties. Plus, praying with other people is extremely encouraging.
If you have kids? Pray with them. One of my favorite bedtime rituals my husband and I do with our son Luca is pray, and the simple belief of a child praying to God is so powerful and encouraging.
making me whole...
Surrender. It has been my word for 2022. Am I perfect at it? No, but God has taken each moment I have surrendered. Each moment that I have trusted Him, and He has replaced the doubt with faith. He has and is taking the broken pieces of trust that I have picked up throughout my life and He is refining it and making it whole. He is making me whole.
Emma and her husband are raising their two boys in Michigan. When Emma isn't chasing toddlers, she is working on her very first novel or making natural body products for her company, Grandma's Lavender.
Photos by Cate Autumn Photography. Headshot provided by Emma Kesterson.