Updated: Jan 16
So, my sister asked me on New Years eve, "What is your word for 2023?" I told her that I had not given it much thought. Honestly, I just wanted to quietly exit 2022 and sleep in the new year. 2022 was exhausting for me and my family, and I just wanted peace and quiet. I was invited to parties and I graciously declined every invitation. Have you ever just wanted to be left alone? Well, that was me.
In my alone time, I found myself reflecting on my sister's question about choosing a word for the new year....and low and behold, a word did come to me. I didn't force it or dig too deep into my emotions, to come up with this word. Actually, the word came to me after I had fallen asleep. The sound of fireworks woke me from my slumber, which annoyed me. Why? It annoyed me because we were already in the middle of a storm and it was pouring rain outside.
"Who lights fireworks in the rain?!" I said to myself.
Anyway, I sat up in my bed, looked at my watch and saw that I indeed had slept in a new year. Did I feel lonely? No. Did I feel sad? Again, no. I wasn't even thinking about goals or to-do lists for 2023. The only thing on my mind was how warm my comforter felt against my skin and how much I loved the peace and quiet....until the wet fireworks, that is.
And then something wonderful happened. I opened my mouth and said aloud, "Thank you God for your presence."
Oh my goodness! Without realizing it, by saying no to party invitations, not giving in to the pressures of tradition to sit up till midnight and count down to a New Year, or making resolutions, I creating a quiet haven for myself to think about absolutely nothing and in doing so, I welcomed the presence of God. Remember the story of Mary and Martha, in the Bible? Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, while Martha was busy cleaning and focusing on everything else around her. Martha then complained to Jesus, basically saying, "Lord, look at Mary who is just sitting at your feet and I am doing all of the work." Jesus reminded Martha that it is better to be in His presence, than to be preoccupied with the busyness of life. I'm para-phrasing of course.
After a year of over thinking, trying to be the 'fixer' of everyone's problems...Any 'fixers' out there?...fighting anxiety, stress, and physical fatigue, I chose peace and quiet on this night, or maybe it chose me. I said no to the busyness around me and I found myself at the feet of Jesus. It was wonderful! Trust me. I naturally have a high-functioning, type A personality. So, for me to be able to say that I slept in the new year and loved it, is a milestone for me. There is something about being in His presence. I knew in my heart that whatever 2023 held for me and my family, He would be right there in the mix with me, guiding my every step. I wasn't worried or anxious about anything. I just soaked in His presence, and drifted off to sleep.
On New Year's day, the family got together for our traditional southern meal of black-eyed peas, rice, collard greens, yams, cornbread, and chitterlings...hey don't knock 'em until you try them...lol! I told my sister that I had my word for 2023.
"Cool sis...what is it?" she asked.
"My word is presence." I answered with a confident smile.
She raised her eyebrows and nodding her head she asked me how I came up with that word. I told her that I didn't come up with it, but rather it was given to me. I didn't toil over it, google it, or even feel that I had to have a word for the new year. Rather it was a gift, given to me in my obedience to be still. For His Word says in Psalms 16:11- In they presence is fullness of joy.
Whatever, your beliefs , whether you're religious, or not. I hope that with this new year, you discover the joy that comes from just getting quiet, becoming aware of your breaths, saying no more often, and yes to your mental, spiritual and physical wellness. Your busy schedule will still be there. It's okay...put down the iPhone, close your eyes, and feel the quietness around you. One thing that I discovered about the presence of God is that in His presence, I no longer labor to rest. It just felt natural, free of any guilt or condemnation. Life is overwhelming, especially in the current times we live in, post COVID. You might wonder how you can possibly find real joy in this world right now, let alone time to put down your iPhone. I can only share my story with you and hope that it somehow stirs within you a determination to try this for yourself. At the end of 2022, I was asking myself the same thing and was just tired enough to say no to everyone around me, and yes to myself. It was in seeking that rest, that I felt His comforting presence. It's now January 3rd of 2023 and the world is still full of turmoil...just watch the news, and notifications are still making my phone vibrate every hour. But this precious gift of His presence is what I choose to hold tightly. It is also an amazing gift that I hope comes to you as you choose to stop, and just be still.
Happy New Year, my friend!