18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
So, I thought I was being super creative and unique when 2013 hit and I started anticipating my upcoming, what I called my “Jesus year.” Yes, I am one of those people that think about things months in advance (my birthday just passed on May 28th) and here I was thinking I was all sorts of clever for coming up with this term for myself.
Um, it turns out that this is actually a THING. Granted, I don’t think it’s a popular term for all those turning a mere and random 33 years old, but you can google it and there are projects, books in the works, books that have already been written, and all sorts of things related to “the Jesus year.” Even urban dictionary has a definition for it: Jesus Year-time to get moving and get things done (maybe).
With more research, I learned that there are people who are acknowledging their 33rd year in a special or significant way. I read somewhere that someone even dropped everything, sold all their stuff, and traveled the world and basically took a year off from the “pressures of adulthood” and embarked on a year of self-improvement.
Okay, so I can’t afford to do that. I’m a pastor. Even if I sold all my things, I don’t think I could afford a plane ticket to more than 2 countries. That’s not really an exaggeration. My car isn’t even worth the repairs I pay for when I have to. That aside, I love my calling and my work right now. I’m different from many of the people I read about in that my life doesn’t feel stagnant right now and I’ve been on a journey of self-wellness and self-improvement actively for the past 5 years.
So what can my Jesus year mean for me, Irene Pak?
You know, in a lot of ways, I’m definitely not the Irene I envisioned when I was younger. In a lot of ways I’m better. I’m the healthiest I’ve been physically since I was a teenager. I’ve grown up SO much emotionally and although I have a lot of growing to do, I am really self-aware and have been able to change negative patterns. An amazing and loving family surrounds me. I have a community and friends that I know have my back and will kick anyone’s butt if I need them to. Seriously. I serve an incredible church that supports me and empowers me in ministry.
But you know, I also thought I’d be married with at least 2 babies by now maybe even going on 3. (I love kids so much). I thought I’d be financially stable and driving a car that I wasn’t worried about dying every day.
Instead, today as I write this, my heart has been broken again and my vulnerable and fragile heart so full of love just broke in half and is pouring out a pain I feel like I can’t bear. The only reason I know I will be okay and the glimmer of light I hold on to in the midst of this darkness is because I have come through devastation before—and God has sustained me through it all. In the midst of all the uncertainty, I have been praying—and in the midst of the “ugh” and the “okay” I feel a semblance of peace rest upon me reminding me that I am loved and all will be well no matter what.
As I have been lifted in these days by so much love and care, I could dwell in the fact that my “Jesus year” hasn’t been off to a great start—but I am reminded just in that I’m calling it my “Jesus” year and thinking about Jesus that I am certain his own heart was broken many times—and love continued to pour out for people. If you know me well, you know that even though I’d like to think I could give up on love, I won’t. It might not happen with a partner, but love will continue to pour out of me upon others. I will continue to try and help others and try to see the good in other people. I will continue to have meaningful connections with other people and not just superficial ones.
So, I might start with something as simple as giving thanks for 3 things every day of my Jesus year like many I know are doing. Even on the days where it’s been hardest to give thanks, remembering what there was to be thankful for is so healing.
May 28th: For another year of life, for love, for Joy Yee’s bubble tea
May 29th: Chicago, Jeanne & Zaida’s welcome, safe travels
May 30th: For coffee, Cuban food, the pleasure I get in cleaning sometimes
May 31st: For friends who remind me that I am loved no matter what throughout the day; for a friend who picks me up at the airport at the last minute with open arms waiting for me; for a place to go other than my own home
June 1st: For cuddles and hugs from children; for a mani/pedi with black nails and pink toenails, which Aimee described to me as grief and hope together; for Ghiradelli ice cream.
As I continue to grow more and more into myself, I do hope this year will be a year I can rest secure in the God I know loves me and never lets me go… and although my planning doesn’t always work out, I know I am abundantly blessed by love.
So may this Jesus year be one where I am intentionally thankful, have the courage to continue to live boldly the calling to which I have been called, and continue to love and to serve others.
Main goal: Don’t get crucified at the end. But really, even if I do, resurrection, right?