Word a Year — Trust

We’re only a quarter of the way into 2020, but I can tell you that my word this year, TRUST, couldn’t have been more appropriate. All the hands-on experiences of 2019 that helped me learn what true obedience looks like really prepared me for what I’m learning about trust. Already.

It’s crazy how that last week of December feels, at the same time, like yesterday and a year ago.

Like yesterday because my memory is so vivid of journaling as I explored what God wanted my word for 2020 to be and having my “ah-ha” moment.

Like a year ago in that so much has happened in three months.

Including a pandemic.

Some years when I sense what word God wants me to focus on, I go into it hesitantly, not sure where God will go with it. But not this year. Once I realized trust was the word He was giving me, I shook my head and said, “Yup, that makes so much sense.”

Because I knew that all three of our sons would be launching into the “real world,” and I didn’t have any way of knowing what that would look like. Could they find jobs? Where would their jobs be? Have we prepared them for this big step into adulthood?

Because I was fairly certain 2020 would hold changes for my husband and his job. And our location. Too many questions for me to list here. (Trust me, I have no answers).

Because I knew our church would be facing a senior pastor transition. Who would it be? How would they lead? What would be the impact on our congregation? On our staff?

Because I knew our UMC denomination would be facing the option of a global split. How would that look? How would it impact our local church?

As I stepped into 2020, I realized that every single area of my life was full of unknowns. I nearly panicked as that truth sank in because I also realized that every single one of those areas were out of my control. That’s truth.

I. Have. No. Control.

It’s been a healthy journey for me to acknowledge this lack of control because it’s given me the right attitude and posture for coming to God, surrendered and open for what He has.

I sense my deep need for Him. I remember that He is sovereign over everything–He is in control. I cling to my memories of all the times He’s been faithful in the past. I rest in the fact that He is good and wants what is good for me, my family, and my church.

What I’m discovering in admitting that I have no control is it’s the perfect place to be, spiritually speaking, to learn how to trust God.

So, three months in–here’s what I’m learning about trusting God.

Trust is a choice. When my mind starts racing with all the “what-if’s,” I can choose to stop the worrying, the anxiety-provoking lines of thinking, and change my thoughts.

It’s absolutely no coincidence that Jennie Allen’s newest book released just before COVID-19 got really real in America. We’re all holed away, isolated from people, worrying about our nation’s health and economy. Isolation and very real issues are a petri dish for toxic thinking.

So, one day just two weeks ago, I was sitting alone in my new office, aka: bedroom, helping people in our church find ways to keep connection happening–thank you, Zoom–when I realized my own need for connection. Before I knew it, I was part of three different Zoom groups doing new studies I didn’t think I’d “get to” for a while. Jennie Allen’s book, Get Out of Your Head, being one of them.

I haven’t even finished her book yet, and I can tell you she has completely affirmed what I think I knew somewhere in my deep recesses. Noise needs to be silenced with time alone with God. And isolation needs to be beaten with connection with people.

The whole point of Jennie’s book is to equip believers to learn how to stop toxic thinking. And her first two steps are to get alone with God and get with healthy, God-loving people. Her premise–when our thoughts start to spiral toward discontent or shame, we have a choice. We can continue to allow our thoughts to spiral till they affect our emotions, actions, and relationships. OR we can tell ourselves, “I choose to be still,” or “I choose to be known” (respectively), and stop the spiral.

We have a choice. We can choose our thoughts. And, in a similar way, we can choose to trust God.

I’m learning from Jennie’s experiences and book that my thoughts play a huge role in whether or not I’m trusting God. Hear this–

If I’m worrying about where my son will find a job, I’m not trusting that God goes before him and is making a way.

If I’m worrying about where we might live a year from now–where I’ll work and go to church and who my friends will be, I’m not trusting that God’s got a plan for us…and that it’s for our good.

If I’m worrying about how this transition is going to work as our new senior pastor comes on board, I’m not trusting that God knows exactly what our church needs and that He’ll guide and direct us in every way we should go.

If  I’m worrying about the impact of a UMC split, then I am not trusting that God is big enough even for that.

Because the truth is, God is big enough, smart enough, good enough, and loving enough to care about all these things…and more.

The funny (not funny) thing in all this learning about trusting God is that now we’re all in the middle of the largest global crisis…maybe ever.

And if I let myself, I could worry about ALL things Coronavirus. I don’t even have to list them here because you’re living it with me.

But, in the middle of it all, every day–every single day–I’m learning to make healthy choices:

I choose what I’m putting in my mind. The news? Or the Good News? Don’t get me wrong–I stay up to date on our current affairs, but I choose not to inundate my mind and senses with it throughout the day. What I do choose to put in my mind regularly are God’s truths because they help me stop all that spiraling of thoughts and emotions. I stay in God’s Word more than anything else. And it’s crazy the difference it’s making.

I choose how I spend my time. Looking at Netflix and Facebook? Or engaging with people and God? Yup, I have watched a little Netflix and gotten on Facebook here and there–nothing wrong with either of those. But, there’s a difference in spending an hour or two enjoying those great resources and completely numbing out on them. When I am intentional to talk with family, Zoom with my Bible study girls, or sit on the porch for hours with my husband, my heart soars. When I make time to get alone with God, reading His Word and praying and worshiping (oh, how I love Spotify), my soul fills up. And I become a better wife and mom and friend.


I choose to be as healthy as possible. Rather than sitting and snacking all day out of boredom, I am discovering that if I get up and move my body for extended periods of time, be that a walk in the neighborhood or a YouTube yoga session, I feel better in every way. And if I stick to a meal schedule and take care to buy and make healthy food, my body thanks me later. Isn’t it wild how many more meals we’re all cooking these days? A by-product of scheduled, home-cooked meals is the family time it builds. My little family ends up in the kitchen together more than ever before. And that feels really healthy.

I choose to trust God. You knew that was coming. But I’m learning trust doesn’t just happen. It’s a choice. It works an awful lot like stopping those toxic thoughts. When I feel the worry settling in, I can choose to stop right there and ask the Holy Spirit to help me move from worry to trust.

As I type this–no lie–the worship song, “It Is Well,” is playing. Kristene Dimarco is singing away in the background, “so let go, my soul, and trust in Him.” I love that. I love how God uses songs and people and blogs and His Word to help me learn what I need in each season of my life. Apparently, I need LOTS of influence and encouragement to learn how to put my full and complete trust in God. But, something tells me you do too.

It’ll be more than a little interesting to see how the rest of 2020 goes. I hope you’ll join me in the quest to trust God in it all. We have no control. But we do have a choice.

Let’s choose to trust God.

Making that choice, Shelley Johnson

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

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