I waited impatiently for my thirtieth year. Anxious to leave my twenties, I happily counted down the days and months until I left one decade behind for another.
I assumed only good things were ahead. That I would become a newer, shinier version of myself – somehow, all of the wrongness about me would fade away with the maturity that was in store.
Six months in, everything shattered; and while there has been so much joy in the last nine years, there has also been indescribable pain and brokenness.
I didn’t think that there would be a word for this coming year, after the darkness that settled over me last December in the days that hold such raw and painful memories, opening a door for a brokenness in me that I didn’t know existed, still.
The word for this past year, halas, meaning ‘salt’, proved true in the stark words of Matthew 5:13, and so I tucked my words away.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
The light stretched long in the summer days, and my heart, normally adverse to any and all things hot, began to unfurl under the sun, under the faithful and true words of Jesus, under the love and grace of my husband.
Everywhere I turned, whether it be on a page, a song, or a conversation were the words, “Look up”, Rebuild”, “Restore”, Redeem”.
In the fading light of autumn, I looked at Tony and tried to give voice to the war inside of me, this feeling of something on the edges that I couldn’t grasp, but that I knew was there, but until I knew what it was, I felt I would continue to miss it.
He encouraged me to pray.
And so I did.
Two things happened.
The first? I came across a random posting on Instagram, and these words, based on Roman 8:38-39 stopped me cold:
Phylicia Mason Heimer
So if nothing in creation can separate us from the love of God through Christ, why do we live as it can? Why do we live as if our brokenness is too much for Him, as if it still controls us? Why do we speak in terms of defeat? Instead of embracing victory and speaking it over our lives, we rehearse all the ways we are sinners. And apart from Christ – that’s what we are. But in Christ? We are more than conquerors.
The second came as I was scrolling through a favorite website – one that sells jewelry that holds beauty and purpose and story.
I had my eye on a different necklace last year, that I thought would follow my Year of Halas, this one that I had given up on and put to the side. The one I had been sure twelve months ago would name this coming year.
But, as I said, I was sure this year would have no name, so I just browsed to browse and thought nothing of it.
Until I came across this and paused. All week, the words look up had dogged me. “Maybe?” I thought, barely hopeful. “Maybe I do have a word for 2019”.
I tucked the link to the necklace in a small list of ideas to Tony, thinking that *if* the necklace showed up, that would be my confirmation. Because according to the Psalmist, what happens when we look up to Jesus?
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
As I slipped the gold chain around my neck, Christmas morning, and felt the pendant gently beat against my chest, I felt hope. I felt a renewal…
I felt the missing piece.
I entered into my thirties full of expectation, and when Tony’s dad gave in to suicide, brokenness began to define everything for me. And even when the grief wasn’t as fresh, wasn’t as prominent, my eyes still sought the broken places, because in the familiarity, those jagged edges felt safe.
I normally post my word for the coming year on the anniversary of the finding of his body, to redeem the day somehow, to honor the man who stepped in so fully as a father to me.
But this year, I’m posting on this day. Because exactly six months today I will turn 40, and I’m standing on the edge of one decade ending and another beginning, with expectation.
Not expectation in myself, but in my Savior. Brokenness no longer holds my gaze, though it tries to.
I’ve learned, in this past year, that the wrestle to keep my eyes on Jesus is worth everything, that this fight leads to a wholeness that stretches outward and rebuilds, restores, redeems because it is rooted in Him.
The Hebrew word here for radiant is nahar and it means this:
From the Aramaean – to shine, to give light; whence to be glad, to rejoice, from the light or brightness of a happy face.
Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon
I’m finished approaching life from a position of defeat and shame and brokenness – even if their presence still touches me.
When Jesus died, He fulfilled that ancient prophecy Isaiah penned,
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
I walk as one already healed, the Creator of all things says its true. I walk as one covered by the precious blood of Jesus…I walk as one with her eyes on her Savior. Life will still hold both difficulty and joy. The battle is still being fought – six months and a new decade won’t make everything perfect, *but* eyes focused on Jesus shows me how to navigate the hard moments that *will* come.
December 27th on South 4th Street holds all the welcome for the Radiant Year ahead, because Jesus has already held the days ahead, He has planned and ordained them and *He will* complete the good work started in me and I am so grateful. I’m so excited for all the things in store to come.