Tears still wet on my cheeks, but my breathing slowed and calm again, he turned towards me on top of the duvet and said,
“Maybe our word is purification.”
And, sensing my cringe from behind the pillow I was hugging, he went on.
“Maybe it’s the year we really dig into all the things we know are holding us back. Let them go. It might suck adjusting to life without the comfort of those things, but… how can we talk to people about becoming gold if we’re not embracing that ourselves?”
And then I wanted to kiss him and cry all over again. The mountain of things I hadn’t realized were weighing on my heart had come tumbling down in one overwhelming avalanche of emotion that night, sending me into the kind of crying reminiscent of the days where my depression was at its darkest.
I’d finally gotten it all out – including the most trivial of things, like how my one tooth is moving and, because I had braces for almost four years, it’s making me so worried they’re all going to move – and he listened patiently the whole time. No advice given at that moment, just hugs and encouragement to get it all out.
After a while he turned to me and suggested that word for the year. 2019 was quickly drawing to a close and he knew I was about to reflect on the year behind us. My word for 2019 was “delight in discipline” and it went well – just in a different way than I imagined it would. Some things were the exact right fit for where I was at, like budgeting and taking control of my talking about money issues, but some things just… didn’t stick.
“It’ll be the word that gets us through when it’s hard,” I said. “We can put it on the wall to be reminded of it every day.”
And, if you know Brandon, you know that he doesn’t like having ANYTHING on the walls (“it gets too busy!”), but he agreed.
At the very start of the year I saw this word as a stripping away of things that served me (and some that served me well) for a time, but that need to be ripped out now. Things like excessive screen time (useless scrolling, background Netflix, intentional but too often movie nights), eating foods that don’t bless my body, staying inside instead of going for a run, diligently charting my cycle… all very tangible, practical, easy to “do” things.
Not even a full month into the year and I’m learning it also has to do with my attitude.
I got ready for mass a few weeks ago and a song played that I only recently started listening to. The lyrics were familiar:
This will be my great redemption
While I’ll weep, You’ll set my feet to dancing
The song is Comforter by Amanda Cook, but it reminded me of a song I used to have in heavy rotation on repeat, delightfully (and for sure intentionally so) also by Amanda Cook. It’s called Heroes:
Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship
As I work through what to share, how to grow my business, where I’m supposed to go with all this, I’m reflecting on what I did when I felt like I was “easily” doing the work set aside for me. I’m learning more of what God is speaking in this new year.
I was a heckuva lot more open in the past. I shared freely, talking about the things that sucked and the choice I was making to look for joy anyway. I leaned into God, my heavenly Father, and learned of His goodness and divine parental providence and I found gold everywhere I looked and realized that’s what He was making me more like, too.
I learned to dance upon disappointment. It was just the way of life. Was I dramatic about it? Yeah. Am I dramatic in general? Not as much these days. Part of that is accepting that I’m not the same person I was before the season I encountered depression so intimately. I stopped examining life in such detail.
I still see gold, but this year of purification isn’t just about stripping away. It’s about what the refining uncovers.
My soul needs an awakening. As I work this out to name and claim it in real time, I know it’s already happening.
The purification has begun.