In the Beginnings

As I begin my inaugural blog post for the All the More faithful, so many thoughts run through my head before I feel equipped to begin. Should I type my words out, or write a draft in my journal for a sort of over-romanticized authenticity? When this is posted should I share it, or is that weird and self-promoting? What is a creative process? Is it possible to create meaningful thoughts without past journals to read and reflect on since I failed to bring any of them home for Christmas break? How is the lighting in this room? Do I know how to write? These thoughts, plus one hundred more I will spare you from reading about, fill my brain until I land somewhere quite similar to the ever-wise Calvin:

Image result for calvin and hobbes last minute panic
Writing is something I have wanted to begin for quite some time, but I have always had a compelling reason to convince myself it is not the right time. With the help of a loving, deadline-inflicting friend, the “right time” has arrived. In this time of a new start, I realize how quick I am to rely first on myself and second on my circumstances to achieve a desired outcome. It is not until both of these fail me that I find myself where I should have started: at the feet of Jesus.

New beginnings are exciting.. The blank expanse feels simultaneously empowering and crippling. More than likely, you have started something recently. The start of a new year is a hot bed of goal-setting, resolutions, and vision-casting. I am in no way against this phenomenon. In fact, I am a huge fan and participant! However, in the midst of it, I am seeing my approach to new beginnings is mis-ordered.

Me on January 1st:

Goal – Exercise more and eat better.

My approach begins with an exciting self-hype monologue. You can do it! You were once athletic! And you like vegetables. What a star. You’re not in graduate school anymore! Work provides access to free workout classes. There is a good chance 2019 will include a massive decline in your desire to have chocolate after dinner.

Then, I envision the end of January. I have gone on three to five runs since the start of the year and a couple of workout classes when my roommate convinced me we should go. I may have eaten more vegetables, but it was a coworker’s birthday this week, and it would have been completely thoughtless of me to not have a piece of cake to celebrate. I send up a hopeless prayer asking God why I am not one of those people who loves to run half-marathons.

The reality is, when I try new things, I usually go at them with an unbridled sense of enthusiasm rooted completely in my belief I can accomplish what is before me. Take exercise and insert whatever goal or desire you have focused on during this new year. It can relate to parenting, budgeting, reading, or learning to play the ukulele. When I set out to accomplish something armed with determination and a fresh start, I am always reminded that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

And yet.

Romans 15:13 tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“As you trust in Him,” is so often the part I mess up. My approach to daily life is very often “as I trust in Claire and then request the Lord to intercede when it all falls apart.” What if I began every new year, new blog post, new workout regimen, and new day with a commitment to trust in Jesus to give me the strength for what is asked?

When I begin from a place of trust, the fruits of joy, peace, and hope in the Lord quickly follow. It is this joy, peace, and hope that gives us the strength to persevere in our pursuits. We are capable of setting difficult, scary, and energizing goals for ourselves and seeing them come to fruition, but in doing so we must be anchored in trusting the Father with our lives completely, rather than ourselves.

One of my favorite prayers of all time is the Litany of Trust written by the Sisters of Life. It has a way of speaking into the exact fears and lies I buy into that lead me to rely on myself and my circumstances instead of the truth of God’s word and His character. One of my favorite lines from the prayer states, “From the false security that I have what it takes, deliver me Jesus.”

As we start this new year, we can lean into the truth that we may not have what it takes, but we have a God who has equipped us to know Him and make Him known. Based on what He tells us in Romans 15:13, we can overflow with hope for the future of a life spent with Him when we place our trust in His steadfast truth.

So, as we find ourselves at the end of January, maybe we are still rocking all of the things we set out to do at the start of the year. Maybe we have found ourselves faltering, overwhelmed by what life has put before us without our added ambitions. Wherever we find ourselves, may the words “Jesus Christ, I trust in you. Lord, increase my trust.” be the echo of our hearts and minds as we pursue all new endeavors at the start of this year.

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