What a crazy year it has been. It seemed like everything was kicked up to eleven. I got two new jobs where I get to be around some of the most incredible students, both in church and in a school. The Holy Spirit gave me crazy visions that blow me away and can’t wait to step into. I had the chance to plan an event and see students step into an authentic faith. The prayer wall I have on the back of my door (notecards with prayers written on them for people in my life) have been answered and I had the chance to step into deeper relationship with many of these people. It has been one wild year.
In all of it, God has reigned supreme and renewed me each day; he has been all that I needed.
I’m sure many of you are sleeping in this first day of 2018, I hope you enjoyed ringing the new year in with close family and friends, or, if you’re like my INFJ ways, you spent the night dreaming and thinking about the new year and what will come. I encourage you to do this, for the past few years now I have made a point to truly apply new aspirations to my life. I do this by adding a character attribute to myself (which I know sounds like a Dungeon and Dragons type thing to do), each year I make an effort to add something new to my personality. Similar to the “My One Word” idea, but I add something to my character, the core of who I am and who God calls me to be. I started doing this in 2013, where I chose to be a servant, one who looks at the needs of others and does what they can to help them. In 2014, I chose to be a hero, one who sacrifices their own life and desires for that of a greater cause. In 2015, I chose to be an adventurer, one who takes on new challenges and experiences, and thrives. In 2016, I chose to be a doctor, one who cares for people that are hurting and one who never gives up trying to save others. Finally, last year I chose to be an avenger, which is a warrior who seeks justice and to protect others. Boy, that was fitting. This past year was a hard year for many people in my life, especially the students I am surrounded by. I realized how dark the world can get. People are struggling all around us and we need to stand up and protect them from the enemy, leading them into safety. The cool thing about an avenger, is that they help redeem. I was able to be around people that needed someone to help them, struggling with self-loathing, thoughts of suicide, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and I was able to help these people find freedom by directing them to leaders who were able to help them and my own words.
2017 had some dark moments, but God shines brightest in the midst of darkness.
With the past year in mind and what’s to come this year, I chose to be gifted.
This word actually came during one of my quiet times a couple of months ago. I was having a hard time with a lot of things. I was questioning if I was doing the right things, if I was listening to God, but the biggest thing I was doing was comparing myself to others. Comparison only leads to disappointment. We start looking at the way others appear and wonder if we should be doing more, but we never add up to the perception of others. In this dark moment, God showed up, he reminded me of the verse I tell students all the time. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” God reminded me that I am made in his image, and he made every fiber of my being and designed me with a purpose. He has gifted me with all that I need, so I choose to live gifted.
I always love the X-Men (ugh, is he really going to talk about comics? Yup, an it’s a good one, so pay attention, kiddo). The X-Men resonate with me. A group of young people who are absolute misfits, the world hates them and rejects them, calling them “muties” and telling them they are an abomination. What do the X-Men do? They stand. They stand for the people who hate and curse them, even the ones who have been branded with an “m” on their face, those who have been beaten and mocked, those who feel like they never fit in; The X-Men realized something bigger, they had been gifted and they refused to stand down and not use their great power. They often refer to mutants as gifted to counter-act the “mutie” derogatory term. It’s cool how God gave me this word, because I need to be reminded that I am gifted. You are gifted. We are gifted because we are made in the image of God.
Some days, you’re gonna crash.
The thing we have to remember, is that even when we choose Christ, the road isn’t easy to walk. You’re gonna have bad days, and it’s going to feel like hell is doing all it can to destroy you. We need to remember that God helps us stand. My New Year’s Eve was very low-key, I was with my parents and I was able to think and watercolor. One thing we chose to do was watch a movie, and wouldn’t you know it, one of my favorite movies was on Netflix: Cool Runnings. Oh yeah, it’s incredible. It’s about the Jamaican bobsled team, a group of misfits who are gifted but life caused them to miss on their original dream, or so they thought. They had a picture in their minds about being Olympic sprinters, but life had other plans. Did our gifted individuals give up? Not one bit. They were gifted and chose to be who they were in their identity, they chose to be themselves, in a world that mocked and laughed at them. The final moment in the movie has them on their final race, and they crash. All their hard work seemed to mean nothing. Then in an incredible moment, they decide they have to finish the race. They stand. Carrying the bobsled down the rest of the track, and as the classic scene of the slow clap, they finish and they finish well.
Some days, you’re gonna crash, but God can help you finish well.
This year, I choose to stand in Christ. I choose to remember that I am gifted. I look back at the years and see that each word was exactly what I needed for that year. Servant, hero, adventurer, doctor, avenger, and this year; gifted. Lots of big things are happening to me, just like they will happen to you, good and bad, they will come. I choose this year to stand, even in the crash and the failures of my past, I choose to stand. I choose to step into my giftedness. I choose to stand up for the next generation and be an advocate for young people. Our lives have dark moments, but God shines brightest in the darkness.
This year, choose to stand in the midst of all things that will come your way.