For at least the past three years I’ve spent December hearing about “One Word 365”. My friends have talked about the “word” they believed would be the banner for vision for the following year. My sister brought it up last Christmas. I got nothing.
As per usual, I left most of those conversations feeling confused and left out. God wasn’t giving ME a word, that’s for sure.
I guess I always believed it was my purpose to be the steady plodder, the worker bee. I don’t think I’ve ever believed I could be the visionary. That was someone else’s job. Someone with more resources, more support, more, well, more everything than I had. Those were the people who got “words from God” for their year.
It is an unfortunate truth, in my life, that I find I am all too often entrenched among the disappointed and not seated with the dreamers and their wide-eyed faith.
“How does this even work?”
I’d question my husband again and again and he’d raise an eyebrow and shrug it off. He has a Big Picture mentality so, of course, God has a plan and a vision.
I believed I was trying to make sense of this idea that didn’t fit well into my pragmatic, one foot in front of the other, don’t look too far down the road mentality but, really, I was dismissing something that scared me.
Could I believe in impossibility? Could I trust in an invisible, unquantifiable plan?
Where control was out of my hands as the responsibility to follow rests on my shoulders.
Then 2014 happened and, frankly, all my warm little places got shot to hell.
The cozy fireplace, the little dog, the comfortable life, the reliable car… The community of relationships, the satisfaction of teaching classes, the safe coffee shop with black inspiration and gratification of soft, yeasty cinnamon rolls. My well-appointed kitchen, feather comforter, Egyptian cotton sheets… The packed closet and expensive shoes collected in meanders through familiar stores. I relished my freedom to come and go as we wished. I savored the liberty to complain about things and yet do nothing. The status quo…
It’s all Gone.
Stripped away until all that remains is a suitcase weighing less than 49 pounds, a few pairs of shoes that need replacing sooner than later, a few toiletries, a silver tea strainer, a batik cotton tablecloth, and a passport filling with stamps.
The paper dolls of self within me are fighting for survival while all the testaments to who I’ve ever been are scattered around the place I used to call home.
I’m stripped bare to the core and lack even the basic emotional strength to wrestle with paper dolls.
A few nights ago I sat on my rented bed in our rented house in a village in Wales you’ve never heard of and, under a down comforter with borrowed duvet, holding the only pen I could find in the entire house I began to write words:
Surely, in this cacophony of thoughts there must be something God was saying to me!
Determinedly, I doodled. I thought. I pondered.
Ultimately, I set it aside and succumbed to the quiet of the night. Maybe this just wasn’t for me.
But in the early morning, as the birds stirred outside the window and my husband slept quietly next to me, a whisper woke me.
I chewed on it for a minute before deciding that was a TERRIFYING WORD and I was going to go back to sleep and ignore it.
“Transformation”, came the reply.
A gentle voice. An insistent thought. A subtle reminder that once, indeed, I had asked God for His thoughts on who He wanted me to become.
All day yesterday I ignored that word as it bounced around my heart and my head.
“What does it mean? Trans: move formation: the act of forming, being formed. Can I be changed? Why would He do this? This means I will have to get up early, and actually be disciplined, doesn’t it? I like being lazy… I really do. I’m stretched so thin that the thought of the work needed for transformation is overwhelming. I don’t want to do this. Surely there’s another word for me. A word like Home or Plenty or Delightful. That would be easier. That actually sounds like fun.”
But, through that whole day, through TV shows, Facebook updates, breakfast, lunch and dinner, it echoed and murmured again and again,
Last night I stood at the back door looking at a pitiful reflection of myself. Messy bun askew, my one white shirt stretched out and pilling, no makeup, circles under squinty eyes, a hacking cough deep in asthmatic lungs, the kitchen loaded with dishes in the background.
Fireworks were still exploding around us as lights filled the sky. It was a New Year here.
Raising my glass to the woman in the window, I gave up the fight.
“Here’s to tired and frustrated, unsure and uncertain, dreaming big and losing much, fear of the unknown and the wandering of not dreaming at all. Here’s to a year without stability and feeling the fear of not having enough. Here’s to not knowing how to parent young men without the support of my circle and learning to lean on each other. Here’s to letting go of every preconceived ideal I ever had about the person I’d be at 40.
And here’s to a God big enough to change it all into something that blesses Him and makes of me more than I ever would have let Him before. “
“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose…” Romans 8:28a
Leaning on Him,