Last summer, our 3 week trip to France taught me where my heart is.
And I took another 3 weeks of traveling this past winter, touching both coasts. And it taught me a sweet something that I plan to carry into this new year.
Between the layovers and flights we encountered making our way to San Diego for a cruise with the in-laws, I found myself reflecting on this past year. It's felt almost like a "pregnant" year —there's been some visible change on the outside, but on the inside, there's been tremendous growth and change that I can barely put into words. It's been a sweet and scary experience to live a life that simply tries to follow wherever the Holy Spirit leads. And even more terrifying to let this Spirit birth new life in our hearts, not knowing what to expect —but remaining expectant nonetheless.
That's something I've felt God whisper into my heart the past few months. When I feel afraid of the future, afraid to write my heart out, afraid to take the first step in a new direction—
"I AM with you, Jeana. You can expect joy."
Being a woman who has experienced years of anxiety and depression means that the concept of joy has felt pretty foreign to me. It's always seemed like something just out of reach. Or perhaps, within reach, but personal anxiety has kept me from reaching out to it.
"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,”
says the Lord.
Sometimes, we walk around with thorns in our sides, and we don't really notice the pain because we don't even remember how it got there in the first place. But I do know that when we enter into the presence of Jesus, He doesn't just stand idly by as we limp around with fear or doubt or sorrow. When we let Him, He begins to pull at the things that have kept us from living a life of joy —and that might mean some intense pain at first. Because we've got to walk through the reality of hurt before we can let it go once and for all.
That might mean allowing Him to take away the things we hoard into the heart —the things we use to create worth for ourselves.
Our job descriptions.
And anything else we are so terrified of losing control of.
I've felt what it's like to let Jesus take them into His hands. And I've felt not only the pain, but the healing most of all.
And now, I'm expecting joy.
Shortly after the Pacific Coast cruise, I made my way to the coast of North Carolina to help care for my sister and her new baby.
I remember the conversations we shared about fear about this new baby boy. Circumstances didn't seem ideal, the timing was a little off, and there were so many unknowns to come.
But then I saw her holding her sweet boy, and it seemed as though the fear had never existed at all.
All that worry for nothing. And all that labor pain for something glorious.
A joy that will continue to grow her and challenge her and make her life into something it was made to be all along.
And even when circumstances aren't ideal, the timing is off, and there are many unknowns, we can still expect that kind of joy too.
For 2018, and every year to come.