By JENNY SEYLAR
At midnight, 2019 passed uneventfully into 2020, a new decade, and it presented a blank canvas on which to paint my story. So many times people (me included) make resolutions for the New Year, only to leave them beside the road by the end of January. I have sought to approach 2020 as I did in 2019, and that is by setting intentions instead of resolutions.
An intention is an aim, plan, or a purposeful way to approach something that is desired. I claimed 2019 as the “Year of Discernment.” To make sure I had the necessary space and time for this internal spiritual guidance, I set aside space in my day almost daily to sit quietly in the early morning and listen for the voice of God speaking to my heart. Through reading, journaling, and prayer, I found the needed insight to face the specific things I intended to sort out. These were life changing things that are at the core of who I am. I kept them safe within my soul, save for a few close friends and family.
As 2020 moves into February, still ripe with the opportunities of the New Year, I now speak these private things out to the Universe for you to know. There were three things in need of discernment in 2019: 1) Vocation- Should I stay within the local church doing ministry or was I being called outside the confines of church ministry to bring light to people living in the dark places? 2) Housing- After almost 13 years living in the house with my late husband and kids, was I being called to close this chapter and downsize? And 3) New Love- I desired to have a significant relationship with a new life partner, which became more and more coveted as my heart began to heal in earnest from the unexpected death of my husband in the fall of 2017.
So, you might be wondering how my year of discernment played out. In August I left church ministry in Cedar Rapids and began serving God as Chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. In late December I closed on a townhouse nearby and made the move in early January, after the Christmas celebrations were done. As for finding a new life partner, I have been on a few dates with men, and I have developed friendships with others. It’s the start that I needed, and it will continue to unfold, as I am certain God is working on this for me.
One of my most listened to songs after my husband’s death was Danny Gokey’s “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again.” (Here is a link to a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azYK8I2uoog) It is a song that still speaks to the deep places in my heart. “Yesterday’s a closing door; you don’t live there anymore.” I have finally come to grips with this reality, and I am ready to move on. Another meaningful line is, “In this moment heaven’s working everything for your good.” In my quiet time each day I have developed a trust of God that makes this a reality for me. A Bible passage that emphasizes this for me is “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12) “Thus far” speaks to the many ways that God has spoken to my heart in these past few years. It also resonates with the grief healing that I have experienced. “Thus far” also points toward the future that I trust God is working on for me. “Thus far” is not the end of the road, but it is a mere rest stop on the journey that is my life; a chance to evaluate and celebrate.
So, as I continue walking through 2020 I claim, with new intention, this to be “The Year of New Beginnings.” I claim the new opportunities to be found in ministry both in the hospital and the community. I claim the new memories and traditions that are unfolding in my new home. I claim the hope of new found love that will be the beginning of a journey with a new life partner. I claim the strengthening of old relationships and the building of new ones. In this Year of New Beginnings I hope to grow in creativity, compassion, strength and love.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Friends, what will you claim with intention for 2020? Will you seek out new opportunities for growth or will you continue to be content with the status quo? “Heaven is working everything for YOUR good” as well. I, for one, desire to drink in the abundance of what life has to offer instead of returning to the lonely, dry desert life of these past couple of years. Much healing has occurred in my heart and in my life, and for that I praise God. What healing needs to be happening in your life, in your heart? It takes work and intention to move forward, and God wants to journey with you.
PRAYER God of Grace and Glory, I praise Your presence in my life and thank You for being on this life journey with me. Forgive me when I seek to go it alone. Guide me in what I claim for my 2020 intentions, for I cannot do it on my own. Help me to grow personally, to expand my faithfulness to You, and to mend and strengthen my relationships with loved ones. Amen.
ABOUT JENNY SEYLAR Jenny Seylar is a woman with a deep faith in Jesus Christ. She serves in hospital chaplaincy and community ministry in Iowa. As a pastor, she is passionate about walking with all ages as they journey in their faith. She believes in creating authentic relationships in order to walk alongside folks wherever they are in their faith journey.
In 2017, Jenny’s husband of 28 years unexpectedly died while on a training bicycle ride. In the aftermath, Jenny and her 3 grown kids, daughter-in-law, granddaughters, and close friends, have sought ways to find joy in the everyday miracles that make up this life. You can read more about Jenny Seylar at her blog “Journey From Despair to Hope” at https://journeyandstrength.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/through-the-lens-of-grief/