2013 was the first year I chose one word for my resolutions. It seemed simpler-one focus rather than a dozen soon to be abandoned goals. It went pretty well.
I chose one word subsequent years as well. Over time, though, I realized something. During those years, God brought other lessons into my life, unrelated to those words. And it’s hardly my place to say, “Um, excuse me? I’m focused on this ONE THING right now. Come back later.”
Those lessons weren’t short ones, either. Or necessarily new ones. In fact, the same lessons keep coming up over and over. To the point where I get discouraged and say, “God, didn’t we cover this material already? Did I fail the first time? How many times are we going over this?”
Turns out we go over it until we learn it.
What I’m Doing Instead of One Word
So this year I decided: no need to search for a new word. I just need to keep visiting the old ones. Who knows, maybe they’re my lessons for life? I keep learning till I die? Here’s hoping I’m not quite that slow a learner.
And in the interest of authenticity and encouragement and general self-disclosure, I’m going to share those lessons with you. They’ll probably be familiar to you (they could also be titled, “The Themes of Gina’s Blog in the Past Five Years”). I hope they might spur your own Life Lesson List.
Whenever I think I’ve slowed my life down, God points out a way that it could be even slower. Pretty soon I might be going backward. But He reminds me that He does not value efficiency and productivity the way I do; they are not His goal for me. While they have their place, I want to be someone who journeys well with people, and with my own soul. It is hard to do that when I’m running.
I want to move at a pace that allows me to hear from the Spirit, to pay attention to the needs around me, to have space to meet them. Hopefully, I will become someone whose spirit invites others to rest and life. I never want my soul to have to catch up to my body. So I will keep seeking a healthy pace.
Love in the Little Things
One of the biggest things I hope happens when I slow down is the space and awareness to see how I can love others better. This phrase, “love in the little things” has swirled in my mind for months. It’s recognizing the small ways I could love the people God puts in my life.
It’s often the ways that, if I never did them, they won’t notice. Like sending a card or a text letting someone know I’m thinking of them. Making a meal. Stopping by to say hi. A gift. Honestly, an extra minute of conversation when my temptation is to stay on task. Aside from loving God, loving others is our highest task. So I hope to love in the little things.
Be Poor in Spirit
When I say this one, people often wonder out loud if it’s a good thing. Well, Jesus said it was, so I’m sticking with it, especially since I can’t say it’s true of me yet. I expect much of myself and others, without realizing it. I spend a lot of energy trying to impress, and my expectation of others often includes them impressing me.
But I’m done being underwhelmed by life. To be poor in spirit is to be humble and in awe of all that God gives. It precludes entitlement. It assumes nothing, expects nothing, and is then therefore grateful for everything. Being poor in spirit is the way of the kingdom, so I will press on to live well in it.
The past few years life has brought us bigger issues that have prompted greater prayers. I can’t say He’s answered all of them the way I hoped. But I can say that it has turned me toward Him. It’s strengthened my faith. It’s made me bolder.
And yet I am aware that I have only just begun to ask for what God might give me. After all, He said He provides more than we can ask or imagine, right? I want to continue to grow not only in the frequency of my requests, but the confidence with which I ask, the hope with which I wait, and the trust I have in any answer. I want Him to say, when I see Him face to face, “Oh child, I’m so glad you asked.”
Stay at Home with God
I read this quote recently, “God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk” (Meister Eckhart). Yes, I am prone to wander. But in the seasons when I have made it my aim to remember this truth, “I am at home with God and I do not need to search for life elsewhere,” I have lived with the freedom and authenticity I long for. It creates a solid place inside me from which life and love can flow. In fact, I should probably list it first. It is first. God’s greatest desire for us is that we live at home in His love.
Staying in that truth is a battle, but it is the battle worth fighting. If we don’t believe that His love is enough, we can never slow down-we will continue to seek our value in achievement. We cannot give others a love we do not possess. We can’t be poor in spirit either-we’ll still be looking for proof of our importance. Children ask audaciously when they know they are deeply loved. Staying at home in His love is the key to all of this.
So these are the words/phrases/lessons God keeps bringing around. I hope to grow in them this year. And the next. And probably the next.
I am grateful that He does not give up on us, and the ways He wants us to change. The fact that these stay in my mind are evidence that God is faithful.
What about you? Do you have a word for the year? A new way God is leading you? What do you hope to see happen this year?