When I was seventeen, A Grateful Life Lived was a simple project, the maiden voyage of my 2013 Macbook Air. Since then, this website has grown and deepened as I have. God’s used my simple words and my story to encourage hundreds, and I am so thankful for that opportunity. It’s been equally encouraging for me, as well.

Each year of this writing journey, God has faithfully given me a word to focus on–to use as a rudder that guides my private and public growth.

This year’s word was clear even as I began 2020. As I grew in my ability to receive love, I realized how the deficit of that very acceptance had stunted my spiritual growth. I realized with renewed conviction: I am/was/have always been SELFISH! So, I was not surprised when I began praying about my 2021 word back in October and “humble” popped into my head.

A Humble 2021

Is it too revealing of my character weakness to say that I always considered myself a very humble person? Yeah. . . thankfully, God has shown me *just a couple* ways I can grow in this area.

See, God’s love is disarming. When we truly grasp it, our hearts are: (1) relieved of a need to self-protect and (2) enraptured by something–someONE–bigger than us. Neither of those things is possibly though when when we’re wrapped up in pride.

Where humility is expressed in a gentle selflessness and focus on Christ, pride says, “it’s all about me.” And friends, I’m far too often the one living out the latter example.

Why Now

Humility is something I’ve been slowly growing in for a few years, and that’s good thing because it comes natural to me. I’m an Enneagram 1, which basically means I love structure, reformation, and obeying rules. In other words: I’m the goodie two-shoes who tries to do it all right. That inner-focus can lead to a very prideful demeanor–one that communicates, “Look at me! I’m doing all the right stuff. You all are corrupt, but I’m pretty great!”

Yikes. No one wants to be around that person. . .and no one looks at that person and thinks, “They make me want to learn more about Christianity/Christ because of the way they live.”

I don’t want to be that person. Nor do I want to be the person who is externally humble but has a heart that’s enshrined to self-glorification. I want to care more about others than myself. I want to (as I often pray) be the kind of woman who causes others to feel more treasured and known as a result of conversing with me.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).

Traveling with Humility

As I am an avid traveler. . .allow me a short analogy:

See, you and I are in this together. We’re all stumbling along this road that’s caked with dirt and hard on the feet. At times, we can see where we’re going. At times, we’re swept up in a wind storm and it’s all we can do to keep our eyes on the person ahead of us, their voice carrying in the wind: “Keep going, my friend. You’re one step closer and we’re on our way.”

I hardly think it matters what leg of the journey your on. Our ability to lift each other up is a gift from God–evidenced in each kind word or loving admonition. And one thing I’ve learned is that the best way to let people into that growth is in humility.

By God’s grace, I will grow closer to Him in 2021. I will develop a greater level of humility in the way I view myself, the amount that I focus on myself, and my ability to admit when I need help from others. Will you grow with me?

I’ve been ashamed of my past and unhinged by my present. Those realities can cause us to shut the doors of our hearts–to God and others.

But there’s another alternative.

Humility wisely seeks the counsel of a friend. Humility whispers, “Hey, I’m really struggling. I don’t know how to carry on today and I really need your encouragement.”

Through the past year, I’ve had to taste those words like green olives (I detest green olives) more and more frequently. And you know what? The more I’ve communicated them, the more appetizing they’ve become. But the lingering olive-taste in my mouth reminds me that I have a long way to go. . . to living free from shame, to being okay with not being okay, to admitting: I’m. Not. Perfect.

What’s Your Word?

Maybe you don’t do the stereotypical “Word of the Year.” That’s okay. Goodness knows I have more than one attribute I want need to grow in during 2021. But I do believe there is great value in introspection and goal setting. Knowing how God wired us–understanding our character strengths and weaknesses–is really important. Specific goals help hold us accountable to that growth–provided we’re (humbly!) looking to God as the author and perfecter of our faith and not our own effort. You and I need to lean on the Lord. We need to let him, and others, into our journey of spiritual growth.

So, if you want to come along with me on this journey: great! Pack your bags, because it’s going to be an interesting and hard and fantastic year. Before we hit the road, I encourage you to pray about an one or two character traits God might be wanting to develop (or weed out) in your life. Next, write it down. Make it a goal. And then, let others walk alongside you! Comment below what your word is and tell a trusted friend in your life.


2 thoughts on “A Humbled 2021

  1. Hello Hannah and thank you for your willingness to share. I can relate to being prideful in doing things right, then I am reminded that it is more important to do the right things rather than doing things right! My church handed out ‘star’ words leading up to Epiphany this year and I was given ‘welcome’ so I’ll ponder that in my heart in the coming year.
    Happy new year! Best wishes as you ‘act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8). -Anne

    Liked by 1 person

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