Happy New Year’s Eve, friends. I come to this day with a mending heart, a quiet spirit, and a sigh of relief. Most of you know that 2016 has been a heartbreaking year for the Halls, and I don’t say that lightly. We’ve spent the past few months doing the near-impossible task of taping our hearts back together and realizing there is no way to make sense of it all– there is only the opportunity to move forward, ever-so-slowly, into a new way of looking at the world and loving those around us. We come to the end of 2016 holding each other closer, praising Jesus with tear-stained cheeks and shaking, but still-lifted hands. We survived, and we owe it all to Jesus and those He so carefully surrounded us with in this season.
Now, we look ahead to 2017. I have a great hope that 2017 will be better. While we may never receive answers for our loss and pain in 2016, my greatest prayer today is that 2017 will be a year of joy, peace, and restoration for our little family.
When it came time to choose a word for 2017, Zach and I chose separate words, as we have for the past several years. God began revealing my word in August and continued to in subtle ways throughout the fall, and I know it will be just the word I need moving forward.
So, 2017 will be the year to be BRAVE.
Maya Angelou said, “In the flush of love’s light, we dare to be BRAVE. And suddenly we see love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.”
When I think about 2016, it would be easy to close myself off to the world and refuse to let people in, fearing to be hurt again. But I want to be BRAVE, and continue to live and love boldly despite the possibility of failure and hurt.
As I turn to my Bible, there are plenty of references to courage and bravery, but one of the most meaningful to me in this season I uncovered in Job 22, when Eliphaz speaks to his hurting friend: “Take delight in God, the Mighty One, and look to him joyfully, boldly. Pray to him and he’ll listen; he’ll help you do what you’ve promised. You’ll decide what you want and it will happen; your life will be bathed in light. To those who feel low you’ll say, ‘Chin up! Be brave!’ and God will save them.”
Psalm 31:24 (MSG) says, “Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.” Yes, Lord. I hear you. This holiday season has been my refuge, as we are continually reminded of the story of Christ’s birth, that He is Emmanuel, God with us. (How could I ever have known the words I shared at Tori’s memorial was actually for myself?)
This is the big picture bravery I know I will need as we begin 2017, but I also know that some of the small, day-to-day choices are when I will need to be most brave. The first quote that struck me so hard in August about bravery is what I hope I can do best in 2017:
“Brave means listening to the still small voice inside and doing as it says. Regardless of what the rest of the world is saying. Brave implies wisdom. Brave people are not simply those who jump every time. They do not necessarily ‘do it anyway.’ Brave people block out all the yelling voices and listen to the deepest voice inside the quietest, stillest place in their heart. If that voice says jump, they jump. And if that voice says turn around– they turn around, and they hold their head high. Often the one who turns around shows great bravery, because she has been true to herself even in the face of pressure to ignore her still, small voice and perform for the crowd.” -Glennon Doyle Melton
I have been so grateful for God’s still, small voice this year. I pray that I will be brave enough to listen to it and do as it says, as James 1:22 reminds me, tomorrow and the days that follow. If I can do that, I know God will handle all the rest.
Happy almost 2017, friends. May it be your best year yet.