Wrestling With My One Word
Sometimes God surprises me with things that don’t seem much like gifts at the time.
Can I be honest with you? The reason I sat on my One Word for 2016 post for five days before I hit “publish” was this: I wasn’t super psyched about the word God had given me.
I wanted something different. I wasn’t aware of it before I sat down on New Year’s morning, but in hindsight I realize that I was hoping for my One Word to be something super peaceful, super encouraging… super restful…
I wanted something passive. Something that wouldn’t require much from me other than just showing up and being myself.
…Something like the word He gave me in 2011: “Rest.” Or like the one He gave me three years ago: “Enjoy.” Even last year’s word “Follow” was good for me— it implied responsibility on my part, but ultimately the real work was being done by the One I was following. He was leading me and my job was “merely” to stay in tune with Him and follow His lead. After all, isn’t “Following” what being a disciple of Jesus is really all about? Walking in the dust of our Rabbi, our Teacher, the One with all the wisdom and insight and answers?
So I would have been fine with another year of “Follow.”
Or maybe He could have commissioned me to “Abide” all year? Or “Dwell”? Or “Chill”?
But no. God told me to “Persevere.”
Ugh. I want to be comfortable, God. I want life to be easy and fluid and unchallenging. I want God to do all the hard work and me to just coast along in His wake…
But that’s not really what real life is like, is it?
When I think about it, I realize this: Last year— my glorious year of “Follow”— was actually one of the hardest I’ve had in quite some time. Don’t get me wrong: it was beautiful and rewarding and insightful and incredible in many many ways… but it was dang hard. Any growth I’ve experienced, any maturity I gained, any victories I enjoyed, any improvements in my marriage or in my parenting or in my relationships with my extended family members was hard won. I can’t think of a single meaningful growth-moment that occurred this past year that came without effort, hard work, and maybe even uncomfortable conflict.
That’s what happened when I followed the lead of my Rabbi. He took me to challenging self-discoveries. To grueling conversations. To decisions that required high doses of God-infused courage. He took me outside my safe haven of solitude and self-absorption and good excuses and He opened my eyes to an aching self, aching family members, and an aching world around me. A self, family and world that needed me to step up and be my true self here. To be His hands and feet here. A world that needed me to find out who I really am so that I can fulfill my God-given purpose in this broken world.
So even though I was really hoping for a promise of rest and relaxation this year, I have come to an official decision:
I think the word God chose for me for this year was quite possibly right on after all.
(It’s almost like He knows more than me…!)
Although at first glance the word “Persevere” made me cringe with anticipation that maybe God was mentally prepping me for some crazy hardship that this year might hold… And although when I first received the word “Persevere” I thought I must be mis-hearing God because surely He wouldn’t want me to put any effort into my life…
I am actually beginning to realize that part of what He is saying with “Persevere” is basically “Keep up the good work.”
Keep following Me.
Keep refusing to strive in your own strength.
Keep enjoying the life and the relationships I’ve given you.
Keep tuning into Me and My Truth and My Grace.
Keep learning and growing and tackling challenging situations and relationships head on.
Don’t shrink back from conflict like you used to.
Don’t give up on yourself when you fail or falter.
Don’t give up when your relationships get overwhelmingly challenging for you.
“I know you’re tired and this isn’t easy,” He is saying to me, “but keep moving forward. Keep listening to me. Keep stepping in my footprints and following my lead.”
Even though at times it is discouraging or challenging or exhausting, my Leader is reminding me to persevere. And keep up the good work.
* * *
What about you?
What is your “One Word” for 2016? When has God ever told you something or given you something that you didn’t want… but perhaps it turned out to be okay in the end?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.
(P.S. Linking up with the refreshingly honest & raw Bonnie Gray today)
- My (Belated) Word for 2015:: FOLLOW
- Persevere: My One Word for 2016
- 14 Years After “I Do”: How Marriage Has Grown Me