Sunday, December 29, 2013

a one-word invitation

I’m a girl who has a deep love affair with symbolism. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this multiple times before, but it’s worth mentioning again, I suppose. My home is filled with items that seem like mere decorations, but actually have deep meaning behind them. I’m a lover of prophetic statements and actions through and through. I love the changing of seasons, both spiritually and physically. And I love those marks in time that give you a do-over and a new start…especially New Years.

And for the past several years I have loved, LO-VED, the concept of adopting a single word for your personal theme of the upcoming year. I mean like, LOooOOved this concept. And if you’ve been reading my blog…not only do I choose a single word, but I also choose a characteristic of God to focus on. This has really been my favoritest concept ever…and I’d always look forward to it, every aspect of it. I love the time spent in prayer asking God and listening patiently for direction. I loved talking these concepts through with friends and hearing why they chose the words they did. I loved the hope and expectancy that was stirred up for the next year. And I loved the revelation that would unfold throughout the year as you focused on what God asked you to focus on.  Like, I really, really loved every aspect of it.

Until 2013 was approaching. And the end of the year was bearing down on me, with all its meanings and symbolism and waving banners and flashing neon lights.

Last year, at this time, I was a hot mess of crazy.

I tried to avoid anything and everything about 2012 ending and a new one beginning. I ignored social media as much as possible….definitely skimming over any post that might have had to do with theme words and revolutions. I did my best to avoid any mention of the ‘one word’ concept to anyone…and I begged God to not let anyone bring it up around me. I steered conversations in different directions, and tried to hide the inner panic attacks, if it seemed like the subject was about to be broached.

I was purposefully in bed before midnight on the 31st, covers pulled over my head, willing myself to sleep so I could successfully ignore the changing of seasons that was going to happen and I was ticked that I was powerless to stop it.

Let’s just say…2012 was a dang hard year. It didn’t matter what my theme-words were for that year…other words ominously moved in and took over. DISAPPOINTMENT and DOUBT were painted in dark, dripping letters, hanging over my life like Eeyore’s cloud. Disappointment was certainly not a new concept to me, as with anyone, really. But 2012 held such extreme disappointments for deep-hearted promises and expectations, that I couldn’t face the thought of another year. Doubt had erased all traces of faith and hope that would have believed things would be better. I couldn’t even bring myself to let go of the crap year and get excited about a new beginning and do-over, like I’d done with other not-so-great-years in the past. The wounds were just too deep. I reluctantly dragged myself over the threshold of 2013, purely because there was just no choice in the matter.  

I ended 2012 completely and totally doubting I could hear God’s voice, that He saw me, or even remembered I existed, for that matter. I didn’t doubt His character and promises in general, I just came to the conclusion that they were true for everyone else except me. But I am far too attached to ever walk away from Him or my faith, in general…so it wasn’t like I was giving up. The very fiber of my being is that of a lovesick worshiper, because He is worthy, regardless of my feelings or circumstances. So I still worshiped...and talked/prayed to Him...I just didn’t think He was listening, and I certainly didn’t think He was talking back.

I wrote about this some at the beginning of this year…with the intention to write more…but words have failed me more than ever this year. Maybe I still will….

So in February/Marchish, in a desperate attempt to pull myself out of a deeply dark hole…I did a 21 day visual fast- to try to get some re-focused vision. No social media, no tv, movies, electronic games, computer only for work, etc. And during these 21 days, I filled myself and my home with as much “spirituality” as possible. I played worship 24/7 from one device. I played the audio Bible constantly from another device. I listened to different preachers and teachers, and I read through my favorite passages in the Bible…trying anything and everything to revive a crushed and withered spirit.
And it worked. Only a little, really. But it did work. And the arduous journey out of the wilderness began.

And even though I was avoiding every thought about a 2013 word, and had successfully done so for 2-3 months…in the midst of that fast….God whispered one anyways.

*sigh* It’s just like Him, isn’t it?

I tried to ignore it. I rolled my eyes when I heard it. I thought it was kinda mean because the word pretty much summed up this battle of which I was in, and I was fairly convinced there were no answers. Plus, it’s a word that I personally really like, and I hated the thought of it being tarnished.

But God whispered this one word…and I knew…even in the pain, even in the attempt to ignore…that it was supposed to be “the” word for 2013….and I scribbled it on a sticky note, stuck it to my computer screen, and walked out of the room, wanting to get away from it, debating whether or not to take the path of denial….or the new path that was suddenly opened.

He had whispered….Know.

When it was spoken, there was an inner soothing that happened at the sound of His voice…but fear also immediately invaded and threatened to choke it out. Know? THAT was the whole problem. I DIDN’T know. I didn’t know squat. About life, about God, about hearing his voice, about promises, about what I was supposed to do…about any-thing. To say the word for 2013 was ‘know’ seemed like it was really just setting up a comfy, cozy place for Disappointment and Doubt to settle in with deeper roots and continue to have their way with my soul and spirit. It seemed utterly ridiculous. Besides, I didn’t even know if I was really hearing His voice anyways. So why should I torment myself with my own made up nonsense?

“How, God. How the heck am I supposed to KNOW?” I thought, in the midst of so many crazy, rambling thoughts.

“Seek”, was the response.

And suddenly, things seemed different. I knew an invitation had been extended, one that had been given many times throughout my life, and I’m sure will be given many more. But there was just something about this specific invitation. Something deeply sacred and private. And underneath the layer of doubt and disappointment, in the foundation that was still very much there, I knew there was safety in this invitation...and a tiny spark of trust was reignited. And if you looked close enough, you could see an even tinier spark of hope.

I’ll be honest, I spent several days debating whether or not I was going to embrace it or run far from it. But I finally made the right choice. I released all expectations…for the good and the bad. Even in the net of safety I knew was there, I proceeded with cautious trepidation. I let go of all expectation of answers, or hearing, or promises, both immediate and future...and just went with it.  

And 2013 has still held its share of disappointments. And doubt hasn’t been fully erased. And so many, many, many questions still continue to hang over my life….

But…

In the midst of it, 2013 has been, well, I don't really know how to describe it actually, but maybe the word is ...levelling. And for that, I’m far more grateful than words could ever possibly express. I can't say there's really been much revelation or epiphany's. There's still a deep ache for the promises still unfilled. I still question what the heck I'm doing in this world. But that sticky note is still right where I haphazardly stuck it. Every time I walk past it or sit down in front of it, a deep inner sigh happens…and I remember that symbolic marking point...when the winds seemed to shift.

So in saying all this….I’m actually looking forward to this change of seasons once again and for this new year just moments away. I’m busy seeking God for 2014’s word and which of His characteristics He wants me to focus on. I’ve been working on getting things around me cleaned up and organized…and reflecting on which resolutions or goals should be put on paper.  

Ok, so who's with me? Do you have your word and characteristic for 2014 yet? Please come and share when you know them...even if it's months down the road! Really. And I’d actually love to know your 2013 words, since I never asked (uummm...ya, sorry about that)…and anything you learned because of them. 

Let's raise our glasses to 2014. May it be kind, graceful, and joyous to us...and above all, may we learn to love Him even more. ♥