I didn’t realize when I chose my word of the year back in January that “wonder” is a double-edged sword.
The word came to me out of nowhere during a quiet moment, and I immediately got goosebumps. The kind that rise up as the overflow of a heart brimming with excitement.
Yes! I thought. 2019 will be all about opening up fully to experiencing the joy and magic in life, in God, and in myself. I was aglow with eagerness to receive the blessings God clearly had for me with a powerful word like that as the theme for my year.
But I gotta tell ya, friends: This year of wonder has been one of the hardest of my entire life.
This year I:
- Answered a call to help start a church in another country, signing up to leave everything and everyone behind just as I understood what it means to call a place “home.”
- Gave up my cat friend of 12 years
- Had a second hip surgery and a bad recovery
- Supported my husband through job loss and depression
- Started a freelance practice that dried up in six months
- Suffered from intrusive thoughts about my kid
- Put back groceries to buy diapers
- Cancelled specialist appointments for lack of insurance
- Didn’t buy Christmas presents for anyone but kids
- Faced demons unearthed by my daughter’s toddlerhood
- Have been delayed and delayed and delayed in following the call and doubted if the call was real in the first place
But this year I also:
- Renewed my marriage vows
- Created and ran a successful writing community
- Facilitated an incredible women’s workshop
- Discovered new strengths and abilities as an artist
- Embraced a call to a different kind of ministry
- Was provisioned from unexpected corners
- Pushed ahead with immigration despite doubts
- Invested myself deeper in the church
- Trusted God when I couldn’t trust myself
- Experienced true soul-freedom
- Was melted down and reformed
- Got stronger
- Kept going
What I failed to remember at the start of this year is that there’s more than one way to experience wonder. It’s not always spine-tingling, goosebump-raising joy at the marvelousness of life, the universe, and everything. Sometimes it’s gut-wrenching “why”s or stupefied shock.
Because wonder isn’t safe. It’s not chaste or elegant. It’s not demure or neat. It doesn’t mind its manners.
Wonder is wild. It’s passionate and messy. It’s brash and bold. It’s hilarious and still, curious and awed. It’s licking sticky fingers and weeping openly in public. It’s falling apart and fusing together. It’s just a little further, a little deeper, a little closer.
It’s God—in all His fullness.
That’s what I signed up for back in January. And it’s definitely what I got in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into my lap.
I’m not sure what my word of the year will be going into 2020. Starting a new decade means it’ll probably be something grand. I am sure, though, that despite the pain of the year of wonder, the fruit I’ve harvested from it has been so sweet that I’ll plant those seeds again if I can.
And so, as I close out this year and look into the one to come, I’m choosing to reaffirm the dangerous prayer I tattooed on my arms for my 35th birthday: