My word for 2021 was hope. The eager longing for light to break through darkness. The desire for something rooted and secure to dig into. A safe place to rest. A better hope than all other longings that had failed me in years past. I wanted to learn to hope in Jesus. To hope in Him more than I hoped in His gifts. Although I wanted to continue hoping and praying for His provision– more than anything, I wanted to learn to hope in and desire Him more than I desired a child.
What I learned, though, is belief in Christ’s hope doesn’t exempt us from the weight of grief.
Learning to hope in Jesus, meant learning to lay aside desires and entrust them to His care. As I allowed Him to transform me more into His image and who He designed me to be, I grieved the loss of my desires or even the possibility that my desires would never be met. I grieved not meeting expectations. I grieved not filling an identity.
I also grieved aside from my desire for a child. I grieved losing my grandmother. I grieved no longer receiving birthday calls. I grieved the loss of Sunday visits and Christmases. I grieved not having a child for her to meet. I grieved not being able to ask her more about her story. I also grieved getting Covid and potentially exposing people I love. I grieved for family members in pain. I grieved leaving the familiarity of one school family and getting adjusted to another. I grieved for students who I wouldn’t see again. I grieved for students and families negatively impacted during shutdowns and virtual learning. I grieved for coworkers, exhausted yet still showing up. I grieved for families leaving our church – missing more frequent communication and involvement in their lives. For no longer having a front seat to watching their babies grow.
And yet, through the grieving – I had hope. Hope that He would provide a better love than anyone on this earth could provide. A hope that the love others have shown me, is actually just His love on display. I had hope that He is the ultimate Healer and He can protect and heal our bodies. Hope that He was in control of even the messiest situations. Hope that He loved my people better than I can. That He would wrap them in His arms and carry them places that I could never go. Hope that He was better, even richer than my desire to be a mother.
Hope was the rock– providing a foundation for me to wrestle and grieve. To press deeper into the person of Jesus. To be the anchor to which I could cling. As the waves crashed around and tore down my fragile, weak houses, I remained standing. He held me high and calmed my storms.
He brought glimmers of light through His goodness and provision. He provided Jake and I with a precious pregnancy and a sweet baby girl. He grew and deepened our community with our brothers and sisters in Christ – who lovingly prayed for and encouraged us. He healed wounds and made a way in the deserts for our families. He was simply near.
God with us.
Our greatest hope.
The songs that the Lord used to sing over me this year were:
- Living Hope – Phil Whickham
“In desperation, I turned to Heaven and spoke Your name into the night. Then through the darkness, Your loving kindness tore through the shadows of my soul. The work is finished, the end is written – Jesus Christ, my living hope.
- You Keep Hope Alive – Mandisa and Jon Reddick
“You keep hope alive because you are alive. Jesus, You are alive. There’s hope in the morning, hope in the evening. Hope because you’re living, hope because you’re breathing. There’s hope in the breaking, hope in the sorrow. Hope for the moment. My hope for tomorrow.”
- Goodness of God – Bethel Music, Jenn Johnson
“I love You, Lord for Your mercy never fails me. All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands. From the moment that I wake up, until I lay my head. Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God. And all my life You have been faithful. And all my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able, Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God.
I love Your voice. You have led me through the fire. In the darkest night, You are close like no other. I’ve known You as a Father. I’ve known You as a Friend. And I have lived in the goodness of God.
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, It’s running after me. Your goodness is running after, It’s running after me. With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now– I give You everything.”
- Not For a Moment (After All) – Meredith Andrews
“You were singing in the dark, whispering Your promise – even when I could not hear. I was held in Your arms, carried for a thousand miles to show not for a moment did You forsake me. After all, You are constant. After all, You are only good. After all, You are sovereign. Not for a moment will You forsake me. Not for a moment will You forsake me. And every step every breath you are there. Every tear, every cry, every prayer. In my hurt, at my worst, when my world falls down, not for a moment will You forsake me. Even in the dark. Even when it’s hard, you will never leave me after all.”
- Unchanging God – Live – Hillsong Worship
“Faithful in the waiting You are. Always faithful in the valley You are. Faithful in the midst of hurt and pain. You are faithful. Your promises remain forever and ever. You won’t fade away. You never, You never change. You’re unchanging God. You will never change. You’re unchanging God”
- Fighting for Me – Riley Clemons
“ I need the kinda love that can outlast the night. I need the kinda love that is willing to fight. When the going gets tough, and my strength’s not enough–I see You showing up like never before. This battle for my heart you took on from the start. You are the peace when my mind’s at war, and oh You will never stop fighting for me. When I can’t fight for myself, every word is a promise You keep. ‘Cause You love me like nobody else. You stand up for me in the darkest night. When my faith is weak You’re still by my side. You will never stop fighting for me . You will never stop fighting for me.”
- Rescue – Lauren Daigle
“You are not hidden. There’s never been a moment, you were forgotten. You are not hopeless. Though you have been broken – Your innocence stolen. I hear you whisper underneath your breath. I hear your SOS, your SOS. I will send out an army to find you. In the middle of the darkest night, It’s true, I will rescue you. There is no distance that cannot be covered over and over. You’re not defenseless. I’ll be your shelter. I’ll be your armor… I will never stop marching to reach you. In the middle of the hardest fight It’s true, I will rescue you.”
The Bible verses that carried me through or were my prayer:
- “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
Hebrews 10:23 NLT
- “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy; they said among the nations, ‘the Lord has done great things for them’. The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in Negeb! Those who sow tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Psalm 126:1-6 ESV