I wrote the correct year down, like, 3 days in, so you could say that my 2017 started off pretty well. My church does an event for women where we gather to pray over, choose, and ponder a word for the upcoming year. Last year I broke the rules and chose a phrase, but this year, I’m a rule follower and chose one.  In the last few days of 2016 and the first few of 2017, many conversations (with others and in my own head) have centered around this idea of restoration. The seed of what this word would be in my life was actually planted earlier last fall when a retreat and a friend brought Psalm 51 to my attention. In my Bible’s translation, it is titled as a prayer for restoration.

Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge. Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within. Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Turn Your face away[a] from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You. Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart. In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

In the time since then, that word has been used to mold how I approach different seasons and scenarios. It has changed the way I see suffering, waiting, and joy. I have chosen restoration for all that it has already been, and all that it will be.

Life can so often be such a mess. It is broken and busted, just like we are. And while I would love for restoration to always mean replacing the ugly with something fresh and new, it doesn’t always fit. I’ve been able to break it down into three forms- growth, re-imagining, and peace.

Growth is the shiny and new. The removal of what was broken and ugly and the replacement with something fresh and young and new. Growth hurts because change is hard, and you have to clear away a lot of mess in order for anything new to grow. But I also think that growth is the easiest to identify and be “okay” with. It is clear, especially in retrospect, when we were in the stages of preparing our heart-soil for the new saplings.

Re-imagining takes what is busted and broken and turns it into something different. Like the pieces of a ceramic plate that get rearranged into a mosaic. Re-imagining hurts because sometimes the pieces are sharp or don’t look quite right or we can’t see the whole picture.

Peace is the quietest restoration and the hardest for me. Peace is when we settle into the broken bits of our lives and understand that there is some purpose, though we may not see it. Restoring peace is when knowing Who holds the future is all you need, though the future itself is unknown. Peace is when you hold the broken pieces of your life and you wait. You don’t throw them away to make room for something new to grow. You don’t piece them together into something different. Restoration in the form of peace is the restoration of your soul and your mindset, while you leave the messy life messy for a while. You settle in, you sit still, you pray, and you wait.

And as always, I love you for reading this, whoever you are.