Word of the Year 2017 | Assured

Looking back on 2016, it seems like I feel heartache and unspeakable joy all in the same moments. The year holds many beautiful experiences… Charlie proposing to me under the fireworks on the 4th of July, our wedding, surprising the boys with a waterfall tour through Tennessee, a new job with supportive and encouraging faculty and administrators, and many everyday moments that were so special they literally took my breath away.

But 2016 also holds a lot of pain… Charlie’s Crohn’s diagnosis, surgeries, and treatments turned our lives upside down this spring. We are still wading through the grief and uncertainty that comes with the diagnosis of any disease that has no cure. I have watched people I love suffer unimaginable loss this year – infertility, unemployment, failed relationships, deaths of loved ones, fear of those in authority in our country, and on and on. On a personal level, the hate and bigotry and misogyny and prejudice that I have seen more publicly declared and displayed in our nation this year has left me feeling broken-hearted and completely incensed.

When I think about the upcoming year, I’m not looking through the same rose-tinted lenses that I usually do around the end of December. I am honestly afraid of what sort of unrest and disunity President-elect Trump will cultivate in our country. I am fearful of the pain and suffering that Charlie could experience with his illness. My sons are entering the pre-teen years, and that brings with it myriad challenges that I feel ill-equipped to face. So instead of walking into a new year with lots of hope and promise, I feel like I am already stumbling into January with a burdensome, trembling load.

As I considered what word I need to guide my heart this year, I ran through lots of possibilities. But as always, when I stumbled upon one, it seemed to fall right into place: assured. 

Adjective. 1. Guaranteed; sure; certain. 2. Bold; confident.

The truth is that there is a lot in our lives that is uncertain, that is not guaranteed. For a planner like me, that stirs up a lot of anxiety and frustration. This year, I want to learn how to rest in the things that are sure and certain – the faithfulness of my family, the gifts that I have been graciously given, and the love and trustworthiness of God himself. When I start to wring my hands in fear of the unknown, I want to learn even more how to lean into that fear and wrestle with it instead of shutting it out or trying to sweep it under the rug. And I want to be able to pour into others who are feeling fearful or anxious about the future, too. This life is a gift. I don’t want to miss out on the beauty because I’m so focused on the what-ifs and the trials I know are sure to come. If I can rest assured in the things I know to be true about God and His love for me, then I can face whatever comes with a thankful heart. That is my prayer, not only for 2017 but for all the years that God sees fit to give me.

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Ellie Talley

Ellie is a writer and teacher. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children.

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