That’s the word I’d choose to describe 2016. My “banner word” from the Lord had been humility, and believe me when I say that was extremely fitting. 2016 was the year of extreme pruning and refining. I had to let go of a job I loved, the guy I thought I was going to marry, and the dream that I had longed for. Every insecurity, every flaw, was on full display; there was no hiding. When this beautiful, once in a lifetime opportunity to move to Nashville appeared, I was almost too jaded and hurt to even bother pursuing it. Thankfully God was gracious enough to spur me on – even though I had dug my heels in and was comfortable at my little pity party.
When I got to Nashville, everything was a blur. This was my second move in three months, and I hadn’t given myself time to grieve leaving Montana. God knows me better than I know myself, and knew that Nashville was exactly where I needed to go to complete the healing process. It was a beautiful paradox – the Lord choosing to bring me to the place of my biggest heartbreak to complete my refinement.
The first morning I woke up in my new apartment, I felt different. Something in me had shifted, and hope began to flood my heart. If you know me to some degree, you know that I have a deep love for hiking and find my solace outdoors, so my first step in making Nashville my home was finding new hiking spots. I found several I enjoyed, but I kept feeling drawn to this one particular trail. Every time I reached this specific stretch of the hike, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging my heart, but I just wrote it off as the peace I often experience when I’m outdoors.
When the seasons changed and winter made its home in Nashville, I finally gave in to God’s promptings. I had finally settled in to my new life, and was eager to hear what God had to say about this new season. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I was standing still – no distractions or temptations clawing at my heart, and I knew something had changed within me. In late November, I received a prophetic word from a ministry team in Florida. The morning after the word had been given, I was praying about it but wasn’t receiving any wisdom or insight; eventually, I decided I would hike away my confusion. As I was hiking and reached the specific half mile stretch, I stopped in my tracks. Before I knew it, I paused my music, took off my headphones, and stood still. God’s still, small voice whispered in my heart, “I’m going to show you your heart.”
I wish that I had the words to describe the experience. There was complete silence, and I felt like I was the only person in the world. As I walked past each tree, completely bare and rid of all leaves and weak branches, tears flooded my eyes – it was an exact representation of my heart. 2016 was the year of preparing for winter. Everything in my life that needed to be removed was gone. My heart was barren in the best possible way. I was finally free to grow the things that God had planned all along. I could celebrate the seemingly desolate nature of my heart, knowing that I was finally ready to be made into who He imagined when He dreamed of me.
I’ve learned to love winter. I can celebrate feeling uncomfortably empty because I know that He can fill me up only when I’m rid of all else. I can look with love upon the fallen branches of broken dreams because I know that what He has planned is so much greater. It’s in winter that my roots, my foundation, are able to prove their strength; in winter, I am able to see how strong I’ve become because of Him. In winter, I’m able to be filled with anticipation because I know that I’m prepared for the spring that is coming.
2017 is the year of joy and contentment. Will you join with me in eager expectation for all that God has planned?