I’m a sucker for natural finishes and fresh starts. The end of a year flowing into the beginning of the next is possibly one of my favorite things. I love reflecting on the year I just lived and dreaming for the one about to start. Of course, in July I wonder why I decided to be so ambitious.
A year ago, I started writing in this new home on a regular basis. To close out my thoughts on 2016, I need to say thank you. I try not to pay too much attention to the stats but I was curious how many different eyes may have viewed the stories God has prompted me to share. I am surprised and thankful for how many people took the time to read. God led me to write, so I write. It’s not to toot my own horn but to help other people know God in a different way. I’m thankful for each view, but I am more thankful for each time someone has reached out to me in a comment, on social media, in text message or phone call, or in person. I’ve had heartfelt conversation with people that I normally wouldn’t have anything in common with. So as I pour my heart on these pages, I say thank you to everyone who has poured their heart out in return. The vulnerability I’ve experienced with other people has been moving and fruitful.
To every woman who has reached out to me regarding miscarriage: I love you and continually pray for you. If I’m completely honest, I cry every single time someone asks me for advice, prayer, or just wants to talk about the loss they face. Every time. As I type this, I see your faces and get emotional. The lives of the babies we wish to know can be honored and being vulnerable helps us do that.
This sounds so business like. Let’s move on to what I really want to say about 2016.
It was a shocking year. I’m not trying to be dramatic. I try to leave the drama out of my writing so that we can all think clearly here. But there’s no other word.
I began the year in Oklahoma as we have every year since moving to California. I was pregnant, sick, tired, but thoroughly enjoyed my family for the holidays. I knew I should finally move on what God had called me to and so I did. At that point, my expectations for 2016 were: have a simple pregnancy, have a healthy baby, continue leading the young women’s bible study I started, write more, continue our ministry at Journey and close out the year in Oklahoma as always. I knew there’d be rain, but I never expected such storms.
But storms came. From my mother’s shattered leg, to a traumatic delivery of Miles(you can read about here), to my father’s ministry in Owasso ending suddenly, to experiencing a difficult first few months with Miles including post partum depression, and then maybe not as much a storm, but the biggest personal shock for me, moving to Washington, I found that God had been preparing me for this.
I began searching for this peace and joy from God to satisfy the discontentment I was feeling at the time. Three and a half years ago, God began a work. Last year, I finally reached the point that contentment was coming naturally. I could stop bad habits in my mind, I could change my attitude when I noticed it slipping. Whew, I had arrived!
But what was next?
The ability to be in the midst of a storm and still have my peace and joy. This is what I needed in 2016. Each time the bad news came, each time I was scared, each time I was asking God “what’s going on here?” I realized all of his work was for this.
I finally stopped asking God “why?” and getting mad with his response, or lack thereof.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking why as long as you don’t mind silence on the other end. We don’t always get to know that.
But I finally started asking God “what?”
In what ways are you going to move this mountain or calm this storm?
What work are you doing?
What are you going to teach us this time?
What can this experience say about you?
My point is this: I used to crumble.
March 1, 2013, I crumbled. There were days in the coming months that I wanted to be done with God. He spoke. The baby isn’t ours to keep. I didn’t like it so I stopped. I stopped listening, talking, engaging with him. I shut the door for a little bit until he spoke in a way I had never experienced before(you can read My Story here). But this year, when the bad news came, when I thought I would lose my son during childbirth, when I sat across my living room with my heartbroken parents, when God said to leave our home, I didn’t crumble.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT
It’s real, people. This peace that we don’t understand. We sometimes believe we cannot attain things we can’t understand. But isn’t that just a faith thing? We have faith that what God’s word says is true. We will experience God’s peace! It will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus!
When I look at 2016 and see that my world didn’t crumble the way it used to, I know that God has done a great work in me through this journey to have peace and joy. I need you to know that your old habits, your old sins, your old version of you- it can be just that: old. It can stop. You can change. You can be a better you. The 2016 version of Abigail looks nothing like the years prior. This new version is exciting, but also comforting. We don’t have to let our baggage rule our lives anymore.
So stop. Stop today. Figure out what it is that holds you back from being what Christ has called you to be. God can change your heart and your mind no matter how unfixable you think you are. He called me to be anxiety free and to have contentment so I chased it. I still chase it every single day. I fail sometimes, sometimes satan is really great at attacking me in new ways and I have to put a stop to it, but the chase keeps me going. Progress is the important thing.
2017 looks bright.
How can you surprise yourself this year?
I surprised myself in 2016, I hope to do it again this year.
I say that knowing that storms are coming. I’ve stopped wondering “if” something bad might happen and have started wondering “when”. But with that wonder comes peace that God already knows it and joy that God has already overcome it. It’s out of my hands, it’s simply my job to live it and point to Him in the process. I pray the same for you.