My word of the year and other unexpected beginnings

This first week of the new year hasn’t gone exactly the way I thought.

After a two week hiatus to my parents’ home in PA, I was looking forward to coming home to Nashville and hitting the ground running with my thesis research and moving forward on some new goals for my professional and personal life (not the least of which includes adopting a dog in the near future!). I was eager for my boyfriend to arrive in Nashville for an extended visit before he begins his brand new job as a manufacturing engineer (which I am SO proud of him for and excited for all the opportunities this brings him… I know he reads this so I figured I’d brag about him for a quick second). And, after being home and enjoying a holiday of immense calm, joy, and gratitude, I was encouraged to walk back into my office with a newfound attitude towards myself, my work, and my value.

All of these plans got dismantled almost as soon as I walked into my office on Monday morning. Before I knew it, I was overwhelmed again at all I had to accomplish, at the looming deadlines and risky experiments and the uncertainty about the trajectory of my PhD. Then, three hours later everything came to a screeching halt as my roommate informed me that she had “the virus”. The big one. COVID. So in the middle of rediscovering my stress about deadlines and PhD’s, I suddenly found myself packing up and heading back home, needing to isolate for the rest of the week to wait and see if I get sick. And, with all the uncertainty around my exposure to COVID and some other mitigating factors, my boyfriend had to cancel his trip to come see me. All my plans, all my hopes for the first few weeks of the year, came to a screeching halt before I even had a chance to get started. (For the record, the dog goal is not disrupted. I am still very determined about that one.)

I was taken aback by this sudden turn of events. It almost felt like whiplash, jerking me back in my seat as I found myself unexpectedly decelerating. I took a look around at this week and I couldn’t help asking, “What the heck is going on?” And yet, even through all the changing plans and the disappointments, all the pivoting and the letting go, these words from Isaiah echoed in my ear:

“Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall throb and overflow. For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you, the wealth of nations shall come to you.” – Isaiah 60:5

These words had caught my attention at the Epiphany mass and have been following me ever since. They seem to make a promise, a promise of abundance and blessing, not just in a way that satisfies us or makes us content but in a way that leads our hearts to throb and overflow. The kind of way our hearts feel when we fall in love, when we say we’re in love for the first time. That overwhelming, overcoming, I-am-so-full-of-love-that-I-can’t-hardly-bear-it-anymore feeling. He promises to give us something that will make us feel like that.

And still, I can’t shake it. I can’t shake the feeling that God wants to do something great. That He wants to give us something good. That He wants to give me something good. Even though all my plans for the first few weeks of this year came crashing out of that atmosphere, I can’t help believing that this is the message He has for me: that He is abundant, and my life will be too.

So friends, this is going to be my word of the year. I don’t know what it means yet. I don’t know what it will bring. And the Lord certainly has a sense of humor for bringing this word to me in such a paradoxical way. But I’m going to try and embrace it, and I hope to see how He changes me with it.

That word is abundance. And for now, I’ll leave it at that.

Happy 2022 to all of you! I pray the Lord helps you find the right words to start off your year, and that we may all feel the promise of His love as it leads our hearts to throb and overflow. God’s peace be upon you always.