Looking Back at 2021: A Year of Faith


noun: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Those of you who’ve been reading Leah’s Thoughts for the last several years know that I don’t choose the word that defines my year in January; but instead at the end fo the year. I do this not because I want to buck the trend (well, that’s part of it), but because it’s not clear to me at the beginning of the year what life lessons I need to learn for myself. It’s only going through time and life that it becomes clear to me.

That being said, in some years, my defining word or lesson has come to me sooner in the year rather than later. That was the case last year, when it became clear to me on Memorial Day that it was the year of rebuild. I was running the Smoky Mountain Half Marathon in September 2019 when I realized that was my year of endurance. But this year, 2021, my word didn’t clarify itself to me until very recently. In fact, I started to worry I would even have a defining word. But as I thought more about the year and what I was supposed to learn, the word slowly came into focus: FAITH.

When I speak of faith as my guiding word for 2021, I’m not referring to religion (although I do think spirituality and belief play a part in it). For me, faith has to do with turning over control … control to the belief in the process of life and that everything in my life will work out exactly as it should.

For many individuals, this is not a difficult task. But for me — an action-oriented person, a doer, someone who believes strongly in taking control of her life — having faith in something else is HARD! It’s not easy for me to give up control, sit back and wait, and put my life in the hands of something else. And on top of that, to truly believe that all will be okay. That’s a tall order for someone like me. 

And let me be clear: I’m still an action-oriented person. If I want to do something — running, writing, work, travel, buying furniture, to name a few — I will make the decision to do it. But I also know there are things I have absolutely no control over. And that’s where I struggle. But that’s where faith has helped me through.

Something else I learned over this past year is that faith is intertwined with surrender/acceptance. I saw this a few times with my health. In early 2021, I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue that took several months (almost a year) to get fully under control. That thyroid issue effected my energy, mood, sleep, weight, running. As someone who is very active, runs three to four days a week (20 miles per week), practices TRX/weight resistance training weekly, and regularly monitors calories and food, I was extremely frustrated that I could do NOTHING to change my circumstance, including waiting eight months for an appointment with a specialist. During this ordeal, I was very harsh on myself with respect to self-talk toward my body. And then in the spring, something shifted in me and I decided to reframe my thinking to appreciate my body for what it’s done for me. I focused on that acceptance and tried to have faith that my body will continue to hold me up. And ever since that mental decision to accept and have faith, my circumstances gradually changed for the better.

I’ve practiced that same faith and surrender when it comes to relationships, parenting, running … I’ll be completely honest, it’s SO HARD, not knowing what the future holds when it comes to the people and things that mean the most to you. But I also believe that we are not in control of others or our path through life.

Now, that’s not to say we don’t have a say in HOW we want to live. None of us are helpless creatures. We all have the power of mindset and to make choices, and those choices are what make our journey through life easier or more difficult. 

But ultimately, the “big picture” is not up to me. And every single time I’ve surrendered and accepted that idea, and trusted the universe had my back, it’s always worked out; sometimes differently than I imagined, but it’s worked out nonetheless. And this belief, this FAITH, has guided me through 2021.

I am ending this year — and this post — with a photo collage. I’ve been making these year-end photo collages for the last 12 years, even before I put words to the years. I love doing them as they give me a chance to visually reflect on the past year and appreciate all the gifts I have in my life.

Thank you, my loyal friends, for reading my content and being part of my journey through words and life. May you have peace, love and light on your road through 2022!

A Look Back:

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email