My husband often says, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” I’ve heard him say it so much that it’s probably been one of those things that has not truly translated into my heart as it should have. Sometimes it takes a series of events, trials, too much time on my hands for a truth I’ve heard all of my life to really sink in. This has been the case for me lately. The thing is, the single most important thing for me in my life as a Christ-follower is to truly take on the person of Christ in every single thing I do. I honestly don’t really know what that always looks like because I’m also detoxing from a lot of religion I’ve acquired along the way in my journey. I muddle through most of my life, having a stellar moment of “Yeah, I got it” from time to time, but for the most part my life has been pretty characterized by making the learning process a whole lot harder than it has to be.
ONE WORD came into my life at a time where the reality had hit me that boy, did I have a ton of detoxing to do from religion. I longed for the simple. That reality was a sweet one because it was one of those “I know I’ve been looking for peace, but where is the peace to be found” moments. The freedom I found in throwing off religion and learning to walk the Jesus Way, to be honest, was ten million times less rule-filled. Finally, I could breathe…that is, until I decide to go off and complicate things again. This time, though, I’ve learned that within the complicating of life, is also the beauty in it. You see, in that beauty is held the process of getting there. I’m learning to embrace it.
I’m totally NOT a person to make resolutions. The way I see it is you can either resolve to keep them and let’s be honest, we also resolve to break them. I need something to rest on, park myself there and dig in. For me, it’s always been the refreshment to my soul to just have this ONE WORD I’ve focused on all year. This year, however, I found myself having clearly been given a word, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak it, much less write about it. I only told my husband, and even then it was with guarded language that more or less said to him, “Don’t you dare hold me accountable to this.” My life…our lives…have been a target ground for some fiery darts for about the last three to four months. We lead a church, and we’ve spent most days ourselves under personal attack of the mind and heart, or we have watched those we deeply love battle the same. It has sucked and it has sucked the life out of me. I’ve had more days of throwing my hands in the air, waving my fist at the enemy, and even God, too, just resolving to give up (see my hang up with resolutions). I have basically been functioning under an “I’m done” mentality. Don’t ask me to be there for you. Don’t you dare expect me to have the right answer. And please, oh, please, don’t be needy. I have nothing to give. I am empty. Voicing my ONE WORD seemed too much for me because voicing it would mean I would have to actually work at it…focus on it. So, in my complicating of it…again…came what always comes – peace. See, my word is:
Don’t go thinking, “Wow, you picked an easy one”. I did not. Not for me. I want to be doing something, digging into things. Even in my complicating of life, digging in and working masked my denial that I’m not OK. If I could focus on busying myself then I wouldn’t have to think about the things I have to work on. This concept of listening is hard for me. It strips me of living in my role of always being expected to have the right answer, to be a voice in others’ lives, to have to always have a word. When I finally muddled through the process of getting it, therein lies the peace. I finally got that within the listening came the doing (James 1:22). All of this being put out with being there for others, having to hear them need me to say something to them resulted in me forgetting how to listen. The obvious spiritual answer is I’d forgotten how to listen to God, and that’s true…I had. I thought I was listening because, doggone, I was desperate for Him to speak to me in the midst of the attack I’ve been under. I was trying to hear Him so hard that I wasn’t really hearing a thing. Then, there were my kids. I have four of them and they are all girls. Girls like to talk. I stopped listening. Then, even before I grasped this ONE WORD for me for 2013, I started listening and I heard pleas for them to be heard – from me, from their friends. One was lonely. One was too busy and it was catching up with her. One felt bullied at school. One just needed her mommy to have a tea party with her and her mommy stopped listening. I became desperate to listen to my girls…to really hear their hearts.
So, here I find myself, wanting to refuse to give my ONE WORD, yet unable to shut my mouth one more time before I settle into really listening this year. This doesn’t mean I won’t be doing, but my heart is resting on listening, and allowing the doing – the what I’m really supposed to be doing….and not doing what others expect me to do or what I even put on myself to do. It’s doing something different in order to break the cycle of getting what I’ve always gotten. It’s peace for me. Living the simple. I’m giving myself permission to breathe…and I really, really like it.