My good friend, Bridie, has a tendency to say “As God allows” as a way of giving God the final say in a situation or in what she’s able to offer at that time. So when my word of the year for 2022 turned out to be “allow” that was the first thing that came to mind. It’s a simple statement yet a continual act of surrender, which we all know can be anything but simple at times. I was glad to have this phrase knowing that I could use it to keep my word of the year in the forefront of my mind. Sure enough, it worked out quite well.
As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of many of the ways my word as well as my saint of the year found their way into my life.
For my saint of the year, I was chosen by St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist. Her patronage? Pregnancy. I laughed at this and knew almost immediately that this was going to connect to the café dream. This was going to be a year of gestation. The birth wouldn’t be coming this year. This also meant I knew the “Be Still” verses were going to remain prevalent this year as well, knowing I was called to continue to be patient through the pregnancy of this dream.
Something I’ve been reflecting on lately in relation to all of this is God’s timing. So often He’s already said yes to our prayer, however, He needs to work something out in someone else’s life before He can actually fulfill the request or promise. For instance, in retrospect we can see how Elizabeth and Zechariah being unable to become pregnant allowed their miracle pregnancy to not only glorify God but also align with Mary’s carefully planned conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Then we see how Jesus also needed to wait to begin His public ministry in order to give John adequate time to prepare the way for Him. All of these were prophecies that the Lord was going to fulfill, but that also required a certain order and timing before each one could come to be. An answered prayer isn’t as satisfying when you can tell it’s been rushed or forced because all the pieces that could be aligned have not been.
In relation to this, I was listening to one of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies recently and he related this same thinking to Daniel’s situation from the Old Testament. If you read Daniel 10:12-13 God through an angel says to Daniel, “from the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard. Because of it I started out, but the prince of the kingdom of Persia stood in my way for twenty-one days, until finally Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.” God was ready to answer Daniel’s prayer from the moment Daniel decided to pray but another got in God’s way which He allowed because of His promise of free will. It wasn’t until someone else used their free will to help clear the path that the prayer could be fulfilled. Fr. Mike went on to say that “God is doing something in this that He couldn’t do without it.” This is why we need to trust God and allow Him to work in our lives and the lives of others even if it doesn’t make sense or the path isn’t clear. He is always working, He is always on time, and He is always closer than we think.
I love that even with one week left of the year, God is still using my word (allow) and my saint (Elizabeth) to show me a little glimpse behind the master plan He’s asking me to oh so patiently wait for.
What was God asking me to allow Him to do in my life this year? Well, below is a list of just SOME of the ways He moved in my life. Each time whether I realized it or not, I had to pause and allow God to work in my heart or in those around me. I had to give my own “fiat” or “yes” as Mary did or make up my mind to pray as Daniel did so that God had the permission (was allowed) to work in my life. The times I used my free will to resist His hand, the more grace I missed out on (some of which I have become aware that I’ve missed out on, but most I probably won’t realize this side of heaven).
So for what it’s worth, here is a list of some of the ways I allowed God to move in my life and some of the ways He allowed me to become a little bit more of who I was created to be:
- Allow yourself to dream
- Allow others to dream
- Allow yourself to be honest but deeply kind and loving
- Allow St. Joseph to stir up something special in your heart
- Allow yourself to stop worrying because Mary said she is caring for him and so you’re going to choose to believe her
- Allow mentors to speak wisdom into your heart and dreams
- Allow yourself to go all in
- Allow the dream to become public knowledge
- Allow yourself to leave a job even if it feels uncompleted
- Allow yourself to say “Let’s stay in touch” and mean it
- Allow your physical and mental limits to be pushed
- Allow yourself to move to a new state
- Allow yourself to learn something(s) new (from teenagers too)
- Allow road trips to be adventures full of joy and stillness
- Allow fear to reveal to you where you still need to grow in your relationship with God
- Allow yourself to retreat
- Allow yourself to keep brainstorming
- Allow humility to reign
- Allow yourself to travel far for your friends
- Allow your friends to show you how much you mean to them
- Allow the place where so much of this journey started to refresh you in a new way
- Allow the pain and discomfort of discernment to stretch your heart bigger and bigger
- Allow the setup
- Allow the vulnerability and fun that had been locked away for a long time to be released
- Allow the addition to your family and a furry dream kept on pause to be fulfilled
- Allow the pitstop on your drive home
- Allow the breaking and simultaneously the kintsuji process on your heart to begin again
- Allow prayer and friends to sustain you in the darkness of the pit
- Allow God to continue calling you to this dream even when the joy and hope are lost
- Allow your friends’ dreams becoming realities to fill you with immense joy
- Allow the deepening of a newer friendship
- Allow the distance so you learn to rely on God first and foremost
- Allow yourself to take time before jumping into a new job
- Allow God to handle your finances
- Allow yourself to trust that their rejection is His Providence
- Allow the Holy Spirit to plan a happenstance run-in on a Tuesday at noon that leads to an apology and hug that finally sets that last bit of you free
- Allow the continual “Be Still” reminders to bring you joy instead of an eye roll or “c’mon, again!”
- Allow Him to keep leading you down this path even when it feels like He’s telling you to stay still
- Allow the prayers for them to continue
- Allow healing
- Allow joy
- Allow hope
Having a word and saint for the year have been beautiful guides that have allowed ( 😉 ) me to meditate on certain areas and situations in my life through a common lens over the entire year. This brings a special continuity and hope that we could all use. So I highly encourage you to take advantage of this for 2023. You can use the generator that Jennifer Fulwiler puts out or you could bring it to prayer and see what God places on your heart. I’ve done both and God has used both methods earnestly. Whether you do this or not, do spend some time reflecting on this last year and dreaming about what this new year could look like. While being in the present moment is crucial, there’s a reason it’s sandwiched between the past and future- both hold it together and allow it to be what it is meant to be.
I also want to note that as I finish this blog post up, a dream that I’ve had for a long time just curled up on my chest to snuggle. Ever since my childhood cat passed away I’d wanted another cat but the timing was never right. I wasn’t sure if now was the right time either but when the opportunity presented itself, I went for it and I’m once again seeing how God’s timing is perfect. Hold onto hope and let it curl itself up next to your heart.