By Katie Hilbert
This year broke my heart.
But it also built my faith.
It’s been a year that’s stretched my understanding of what it looks like to truly seek first His kingdom. To surrender my way and my wants for His. To pray for His will over mine. And to trust that His plan is always, always better.
Last year, I rang in the New Year next to the man I thought I would marry. That holiday season was a whirlwind of twinkle lights, hot cocoa for two, and shared prayers and plans for a long-awaited and prayed for future. I was confident in the story I thought God was writing, and I was in awe at how things were unfolding.
After a very long season of singleness, it seemed as though 2017 would finally be the year I would see one of my most precious dreams and prayers realized.
But when everything I had invested in and prayed for unexpectedly unraveled, I was faced with the choice to give up or to keep praying, trusting, and believing that even in the unexpected, even in the busted up and broken, God is still good and in control.
When we find ourselves in a chapter or season that is much different than what we dreamed or expected, it’s an exercise of faith to choose to believe God hasn’t somehow dropped the ball, or overlooked or forgotten us.
As I stood amidst my broken hopes and dreams at the beginning of the year, I felt as though God were whispering to me, “Will you still follow me fully, trust me fully, and live your life fully for me, even though your current circumstances and season don’t look the way you expected, hoped, or prayed they would?”
Sometimes my response was an enthusiastic yesto that question. At other times, it was barely a whisper of agreement, but in all of those moments, whether I found myself feeling weak or strong, I continued to seek out His heart and follow where He was leading. I continued to place my heart and life before Him, and invite Him to have His way.
I failed often.
But in His grace, He kept picking me back up, drawing me near, strengthening my faith, and encouraging me to recommit myself to the on-going process of full trust and surrender.
Because that’s what surrender is—a refining and pruning process that leaves us changed.
The more God challenged my faith this year, the more He changed me. The more He invited me to surrender my ways for His, the stronger I grew in Him, and the more capable I became of handling and doing more for Him than I was before.
And as a result of each of those moments of refinement, I have come to want to be surrendered to Him so much so that I pray for, and wait for, the story that gives Him the most glory.
Even if it’s different than what I expected.
Because what if my story being “different” is exactly what glorifies Him most?
And what if the plan He has for me truly is greater than anything I could imagine or ask for on my own?
I think some of His best surprises come at the moments we find ourselves most open and surrendered.
And while I’ve learned that surrendering means giving Him control of my life, I’ve also learned it doesn’t mean completely giving up.
Instead, I think it’s choosing to believe that the very differences and detours in our lives that tempt us to doubt are the very circumstances that have the potential to bring us the most good and Him the most glory, if only we will trust Him and be open and expectant.
So as I greet this brand-new year, I’m fixing my eyes and heart on Him. I’m starting to dream new dreams, and I’m surrendering each one into His loving hands, for shaping, safekeeping, and fulfilling in the ways that He knows are the very best.