Sometimes our worlds crash into each other. Epiphany played chicken with the calendar in my head. Both vied for my time and attention. I decided to ignore the calendar in my head knowing that to really turn this heart of mine towards The Church Calendar will mean small sacrifices.
I make it sound so dramatic.
It’s not that dramatic. It is just that even if I think I can live on multiple plains at one time, it creates a too full inbox for us all. And instead of being on this journey together I risk being the annoying passenger in the back. So, while I would normally share my word for the year near the beginning of the year, I decided the only reason this year I’d share it in early January was to avoid looking out of sync with the world.
That is not a very compelling reason, is it?!
I’ve shared before my four-year journey with choosing a word and why you should choose one.
I’ve gone from Renewed Joy
I love each one of them. They are like children to me, ask me to pick who is my favorite, and I can’t. I smile remembering how God brought them into my life. I also smile, because like children, they have surprised me. Almost without fail I thought I knew why God would, say have a year of trust after I left a well-known life in China after two decades. I thought He was going to show me how, if I would trust like Abraham and pick up and move, a new plan for my life would come about.
And then not one blooming month into that year, my dad died and I still had no clear life plan. The month of May came and the job I thought I’d get, I didn’t. Trust was “supposed” to be a reward for being a loyal servant and instead it was a yearlong reminder that trust is just that. Trust. Not a guarantee. I can look back now and say I’m better for that year and that word. But it was not what I thought it would be.
The word for 2015 was “practice celebration” and I again thought I knew what it would be – the cherry on the top, coming out of a longish, dark season. Instead, guess what I called the summer of 2015? The summer of resentment.
Though my personal stories about my one word journeys might sound a bit scary, I don’t want to scare you away from choosing a word, or have a word choose you. Please still do it. As I look over the words that have chosen me—renewed joy, cour_ge, trust, and practice celebration—they have become the simplest way for me to recall what the last four years have been about. For the lessons God has been teaching me, and the ways I see myself continue to grow as a person.
This fall, once again, at an unexpected time, when I wasn’t looking for it, God shared my word for 2016. In September I wrote about mid-story endings and how Brene’ Brown’ says that most of us finish stories with some version of “not enough.” As I reflected how I finish stories, I found I’m more of “I’m too much.”
When I told my friend, “If I had just been less” she saw the danger I was flirting with and lovingly said, “You are not too much, you are abundant. That is the truth about you. There is so much in you, so I don’t want any less of you, so don’t start doing that please.” She is British and this was in a Voxer message, so I re-listened to it multiple times.
To be told you are abundant in a soothing British voice is like having the Holy Spirit as a life GPS. When I told my friend how powerful it was to hear that spoken over me, she said, she remembered being overcome by what she was saying and sensed it was a holy moment.
If you look at my other words, they all have elements for something to do, but this year, this word, it about who I am.
I’ve been struck lately by how much scarcity thinking there is in the world. And how much there may be in me. I’m on full-time support. Will there be enough money? I’m publishing a book. Will enough people buy it? Our church is going through a rough time. Will it survive? The list could go on.
While this year will have disappointments, I look at “abundant” and see that if I really, deeply believe I am abundant because I am an image-bearer of the Most High God—if I really believe it—it changes everything. No longer is scarcity my default position.
A year of this and it just might change my life.
Have you picked a word? What was it? Do you believe you are abundant?
A version of this first appeared at Self Talk the Gospel.