Tuesday, January 05, 2016

One word: Peace

I don't do New Year's resolutions. Which is actually a little strange since I love goal setting (and goal reaching) and tangible accomplishments. Sometimes I think I make lists just to be able to check things off. But new year's resolutions? Nope. I do, however participate in some good, old fashioned reflection. Like what were the highlights? Things to be thankful for? Things to look forward to in the new year? I also, if you remember way back, have entered into the practice of choosing one little word to frame the year with as a part of the oneword365 movement. 

It might sound silly, but this practice has become really important to me. As one year closes, I begin to prayerfully seek what idea or word God would have me define the new year by. Just like naming has always been something I believe holds great significance, this too has seemed almost prophetic, often more in hindsight, but, as the adage goes, hindsight is 20/20.

As 2014 rolled to a close, I began to seek His leading for my 2015 word. And I waited. Nothing really resonated with me. January 1 rolled around and I had nothing. The goal setter in me was appalled that I had "missed the deadline" because obviously if its for the year it needs to be chosen right away, right? This is how it is with me. And then it came. A couple days into the year. A year later and I still remember the moment. I was driving home from work after another long night shift, dropping down into the valley, eyeing up the stars and a big, bright moon and pondering what God had in store and it hit me. He wants me to move forward. 


All of the words that I had chosen in years prior were important and good and powerful but they all had a sense of "in spite of" and looking back over my shoulder, still holding onto the past junk in one way or another. For 2015 God wanted more for me. He wanted me to move forward. The year before had been a year of renewal in many ways. Healing me. Putting me back together. Now it was time to take that which had been renewed and move forward.  The things about moving forward is that there's no room for looking back. Live today and look ahead, but not back. 

There were some pretty natural areas of moving forward in our life this year. Like a baby. Benjamin David. Becoming a mom has changed everything - so cliche, I know -  and made me look at a lot of things in new ways,  impacting things I didn't expect it to or, at least in ways I didn't anticipate. Faith. Fear. My marriage. My understanding of who I am. 

We, my sweet husband and I, have dug deeper into church community and life. So many of the people there have become friends who are like family to us. It has been a delight to grow these relationships not only for ourselves but also for Ben who is loved and cared for by so many. It does my momma heart good to know that there are so many people invested in how this little man grows and who will love him well in this life. My involvement in the "doing" of church has increased too and, to my pleasant surprise, has been so rewarding. I have had the privilege of leading worship again and if I have seen forward movement in anything personal, this might be one of the biggest areas. My comfort and confidence in this area have been increased over and over. I am so thankful for great people to work with and be supported by. I'm thankful for the ways that leading has pushed me deeper into the word and into who I am in Christ. I've jumped into a few other areas too and it has been good to flex the muscles of gifts long unused. I'm ever thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to me, the people who believe that I have something to offer and the ways that my stumbling faithfulness can be an offering to those around me. 

There are other areas of life where movement came with fear and trembling, drama and challenge and having that one little word to cling to, especially on those sleep deprived, emotional roller coaster type days, was, and is, critical. Days where you just have to know that moving forward doesn't have to be in leaps and bounds but can be baby steps. Two steps forward, one step back, is still one step further ahead than you were before. Its still progress. 

Sometimes moving forward is difficult, grace required work. 

Lysa Terkeurst says it this way, "There's this beautiful thing called imperfect progress...slow steps of progress wrapped in grace." Those words describe our 2015 well. 

Coming out of 2015, I just feel tired. Like Ezekiel talking about dry bones requiring the breath of God to bring life. How do you keep moving forward when you feel like there's nothing left? Like dry bones rattling around the desert? Like you've given everything you've had and the tanks are just plain old empty? 

And then I found this: 

"I just feel so empty inside...i don't know how God can use me in the new year when I feel so depleted by the old one." Maybe you've been there before - too haggard to hope, too wary to wish, too exhausted to anticipate. 

Maybe you're there right now, toes tired from the journey, your heart feeling bankrupt by the barrage of life. 

But if you've limped into the new year with muted hope and a poured-out soul, I've got good news for you. Our emptiness doesn't disqualify us from Christ's extravagance. Our weariness doesn't exempt us from His wonder." (Alicia Bruxvoort)

There's a certain, steady truth to that. His wonder. His extravagance. I truly felt like I was limping through December but one thing that brought me great joy was deliberately walking through advent and experiencing the wonder and mystery of God came down as man. Jesus drawing near to us so we could draw near to Him. 

Which brings me to my new word. It started brewing during advent. Thinking about Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the bringer of peace that passes understanding. He promises peace regardless of circumstance. He promises peace to the weary and worn out. He promises peace to me. Its no small thing that accepting this as a word for my year has seemed difficult. A gift so willingly given but so hard to accept. Choosing to "learn" peace seems a little dangerous, a little like praying for patience and yet its what I know my heart is longing for and surest way to care for my soul in a way that's God honouring. So "peace" it is.

Where do I begin? Jesus gives the starting point in John 16: " I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

Trust. Take heart. This is where I start 2016. 

As a part of this whole learning, one of things that I know I can practically do is take care of me. I am not good at self care. I did my meyers briggs personality assessment and it confirmed that my one of my biggest strengths is also one of my biggest faults; to consider the well being of others - emotionally and otherwise - to the the exclusion and even detriment of myself. Its true. I will let the things I need slide to make sure others have what they need. I will just "power through." Years ago (yes, years, and I'm), a friend told me that sometimes you have to be selfish in order to be able to be selfless.  Jesus practiced this well and often. If he needed to take time to refuel, refocus and be with the Father, then it stands to reason that I must too. I'm not sure what all of this will look like for me. I need to find those things that fill me up - physically, emotionally and spiritually -  and do them. 

Part of the reason for sharing this here is to live it well in community. There's a couple significant areas that I know have been and very well could continue to cause me great levels of anxiety and stress. If you would join me in praying peace into those areas, it would be greatly appreciated. Even more so, I want to become a bearer of peace. I want to pray peace over those around me. 

So, because you've stuck with me this long, let me leave you with this: 

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