I think coming into a new year holds many different emotions for different people and we want to acknowledge that it can be tough and hold space for however you are feeling currently. The year 2020 has certainly left its mark on all our lives, and we may feel less than excited to run head first into a new, uncertain year. The word that came to mind in thinking of this season for us here at the SA Foundation was DETERMINED, for a few different reasons. Firstly, this is not the ‘determined’ that states: ‘Just keep trying harder and maybe you will get there.’ This is also not the ‘determined’ that is individualistic and believes purely in achieving it alone. No, this determination is actually derived from a place of what we call in the recovery circles POWERLESSNESS. These two words at first seem to completely oppose one another, one striving forward, the other one admitting defeat. So how do these two strong, seemingly different words work in harmony with one another?
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that life is unpredictable. The things that we so dearly hold on to for a sense of peace and control, can be taken away from us in a moment. Powerlessness is admitting that there are things and areas in our lives, despite our striving, that we cannot push, hold or control according to our whims and desires. These things can include people, circumstances, illness, etc. When we try to manipulate and control things that are out of our control, we ultimately lose focus and peace, and our lives become unmanageable.
We have all certainly felt the unmanageability creep in this last year, so how do we get grounded again? There is a wonderful prayer used in recovery communities and beyond that we find incredibly helpful and also necessary for our lives to become manageable again and for peace to return. These simple petitions express a profound awareness that we are in fact limited, but there is One who is not.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
Prayer is an integral part of our life as a Christian organization, for only through relationship with Jesus can we recognize our powerlessness and not be paralyzed by it. In fact our need for him actually becomes our strength, as it leads to greater dependency, trust and faith. We are still in uncertain times and there is still so much we can not control. But we can trust in a loving, strong and trustworthy God, who is able to do the things we cannot.
So for focus and determination to take root, there is no need for unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, no anxious comparing and compulsive striving. Moving forward is first of all about humbly admitting that we are lacking. Our focus, instead of self, must be directed to that power greater than ourselves. God is able to meet us in our limitations and can and will renew us with his strength. In Isaiah 40:29 (NLT) the divine Spirit declares: “He (God) gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”
God provides us with the determination we need to press on, one day at a time in hope of seeing freedom come. God has planted in us the hope that with his guidance and provision, we will one day see the end of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We know that this is a big task for us, humanly speaking, but not when we partner our powerlessness with his power- “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, NLT)