Best Year Ever? Yes!

I can barely come up with the words to describe how immensely grateful I am to have journeyed through 2016 (insert eye-roll because you know I can come up with some words). I loved it! It’s like this picture, there were hard muddy steps, it was hard to see what God was doing below the surface, but I uncovered some amazing treasure underneath.

First, thank you for reading my words this year. Wow! I have been overwhelmed by the response!  When God put this thing on my heart I felt a lot of fear for two reasons:

  1. What if no one reads it!? How embarrassing!
  2. What if people do read it? How horrifying!

This is how I started out 2016, filled with fear and faith. I knew I was going to do this thing the Lord wanted me to do but I also knew me. I know how I am, how I can be about things.

But God never saw me like I saw me. And this year He showed me the new me–the one that looks more like Him. 

He just kept encouraging me. When I felt like I wasn’t doing enough or posting enough or putting myself out there enough; He would remind me that because of Him I already was enough and didn’t need to do anything else. Wouldn’t you know it, each time I posted I found more joy and less fear. I found all the grace too.  If this was the only gift He’d given me it would’ve been worth it. But there was so much more.

This year I sought new opportunities to share His love. Blogging and speaking were big ones. But it’s the little ways that have been so critical to the growth of my faith.  Example: yesterday, I held onto a woman named Pam who was experiencing homelessness. She cried and cried on my shoulder saying the name of Jesus over and over with me. After we parted ways I thought to myself, how wonderful it was to have an encounter with her and just hang on tight to her for a minute. Also, I take hugs for granted.

This time last year, I don’t know if I would’ve seen her like Jesus sees her, maybe not as deeply. It’s as if I see people now. Maybe because I’ve let myself be seen.

Yep, I learned about my relationship with perfectionism this year. I have ten or more blogs written that I never posted. Either because they weren’t quite finished or they weren’t as good as I wanted them to be.  But there was one in particular that I wrote in the middle of the night. Just a couple of hours after I had gone to bed I popped up and felt the need to write. I saw immediately there was a lesson the Lord was trying to teach me.

Here’s an excerpt:

I guess I’m writing this at 1am because my heart is like my home. And whenever I blog or speak it’s as if I’m inviting you over so we can spend some time together. You may see some areas of my heart and life that are cleaned up and ready for your arrival. But y’all there’s a room full of stuff that I haven’t touched yet. And I would be doing the Lord a disservice if I cleaned it up so much that you couldn’t see how much I need Jesus or preferred His presence more than a checked off to-do list. ß That may be the most honest statement I’ve ever written. 

So there it is. I don’t know what I’m doing, or how I’m going to do it and it’s ok if you don’t either. 

The invitation should always be, “Come as you are.” That’s my invitation to you. It will still be the same invitation when there isn’t a cleaned up house, or folded laundry, a perfectly written blog, something other than yoga pants, a packed calendar or (dare I say it?) even happy kids. The invitation is to bring it all with you or leave it all behind, whatever you can manage, just come. 

It took me a lot of years to be comfortable with sharing my brokenness and questions with the Lord. Now He’s asking me to share it with you. There’s something beautiful about it, right? There is no end-game, or ulterior motive when you’re vulnerable. 

I guess that’s the point. Because, if I wait until my words are perfect and my message is clear then I would have exchanged my own pursuit of perfection for my real relationship with my perfect friend, Jesus. That is just something I’m not willing to do. We can find Jesus in the mess, ya know? 

And here’s one last lesson: This journey can be lonely. I have a super amazing husband, crazy wonderful kids, family that surrounds me with love and support, and THE MOST encouraging friends. But this year has been about me and Jesus. This journey, when I don’t have my eyes locked on Him, but I’m trying to do His will, can feel lonely. Isn’t that weird? I wasn’t expecting that. The loneliness hit me like a punch to the gut. I remember feeling really frustrated one night and telling him how I felt.

He simply said, “I’m your person.”

That was His plan all along for me, for you, for my family, for all of us. He is jealous for me. He wants it all. The cool part is, I became a better friend, and mom, and wife when I just let Him be my person. He gave me everything I need. He knows my weakness and is eager to be my strength.

I surrendered a lot this year. I took trembling steps toward the throne and found Grace. I found more he grace and love than I have ever known, which made it the best year, EVER.

For 2017 my prayer is, “Lord, let will be done in me.” More on that in January.

It’s Testimony time! Tell me what He’s done for you this year

IdentityErin Arruda