“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Yesterday I turned 26.
On the eve of my birthday my husband asked me what I learned this past year (because he just gets me) and what some highlights were. The answer I gave him was the same answer I had given my group of Bible study women just a couple weeks before: I can do hard things.
While it might seem childish, self-centered or just plain silly, it’s really the thing that has stuck with me and what I want to continue to grow in this next year. You see, when I reflect on this past year, it was honestly such a hard year. I’ve been wrestling through health issues (while not major) they have left me with more days where I just feel sick then really great. I continued to struggle through the purpose of why we are living where we are, and struggled to find true depth in relationships– which I was so deeply craving. And yet, I look back on this last year and I truly believe it has been the healthiest and best year yet, where I have truly felt the tenderness of being known by God. And I don’t think thats mere coincidence.
For years I have given myself a “get out of jail free card.” I allowed myself to say, “oh, I don’t think I can do that” more often than I gave myself a wild vote of confidence. When the going got rough I was more likely to say, “nope, not for me, I’m done here” than to press on through the mud. Yet, this past year I started both telling myself, and believing the truth that I can do hard things.
Last year I began to dig into what it meant to be fully confident in Christ. And while I know I’ve just started in on the tip of the iceberg here, I think I’m actually starting to get it. Because if I really believe that In Christ I am strong, I am free, I am so fully known and so fully loved, then HECK YES I can do hard things. Because I am not worried about failure, or pleasing someone, or living up to a wild expectation. Instead I am living freely in the truth that I am known, and loved and cherished by the Most High God, regardless of my performance and the ultimate outcome. When I shift my perspective, and set my gaze on the Lord and who I am in Him, instead of on myself, on my expectations, on pleasing others… friends–there is mighty freedom to be found.
I want this next year to be marked by living in and out of the freedom I know I have in Christ. I want to push onward and do things that make me uncomfortable, that seem insurmountable and scary, because I do not want to be a woman who fears anything but the Lord. I don’t think it will be easy, and it definitely won’t always be fun. But I do believe it will be rich, sanctifying, and I pray so deeply God-glorifying. And if I had just one birthday wish, it would be that each of you might have the courage to live your life out of the fullness of who you are In Christ. That you would grab hold of the identity He so graciously wants to give you as His child, that you would experience God’s tenderness towards you and that His Holy Spirit would empower you to do hard things. My heart is that everything I do with my life would be a celebration of God, of this great, messy and beautiful life He has given me, of the redemption He has lavished upon me, and would be to the praise of His glorious name.
“For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. For the moment all disciple seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11