I’m not sure which year it started, but I don’t seem to look at the New Year like everyone else. I love how hope-filled and reflective folks get. I even love the hope that is contained in resolutions–Maybe every year before they’d all flopped, but there’s something there that still makes people hope that THIS will be the year that they jog every day, or lose 50 pounds or not yell at their kids as much.
As for me, if I think too long about the year ahead of me, my head goes a little wonky these days. I guess it’s because in the past I’ve had this expectation that a ‘good’ year would look level and settled and there wouldn’t be too many deviations from the expected path.
And well… most of the years in the last decade have had some pretty major deviations from the expected path. I’ve still found goodness in each and every one of them, but there’ve just been these surprises that jumped out at us like a gorilla out of your bedroom closet that made the years in all their goodness not look at all like I expected.
Sometimes I get a little anxious about such things… Especially when everyone is talking about what the next few months or the next year might or might not bring. As such, I confess, at New Year’s when everyone else is hope-filled and dreaming of better things to come a part of me deep in the pit of my stomach is thinking, “12 months is quite a bit of time… what curve balls are we going to face as we march through them? What phone calls will come that change everything? What news will we be given?”
Truly curve-balls of one sort or another are something that we can all expect each and every year.
That pit of my stomach place feels a little anxious and panicky looking ahead. Will there be words like ‘tumors’ or ‘deployment’ or ‘illness’ or ‘loss?’ Or will there be words that I haven’t even thought to anticipate?
I just don’t know.
I’m not sure when the concept of having a word for the new year crept into my head. It might have been when reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts in the passages where she talked about focusing on a certain word for a year. It doesn’t really matter how the idea took root though. It just did.
I didn’t really mean to think up a word or a verse for this year, but they kind of fell on me this week with that kind of holy spirit nudge-wink thing that happens that made me think I should pay attention. And so I am.
The thing is… Just like those curve balls, neither the word or the verse look anything like I expected they would if I ever took up such a practice as this. Ann Voskamp’s words are always so beautiful and ethereal sounding, “Eucharisteo.” “Communion.” I mean… If I’m going to do this, I’m a girl who loves words… I want one that brings my mind right to the clouds.
Or at least one that takes some effort. Maybe, I thought to myself, it should be something like “Trust” or “Hope” or “Faith.” “Obey,” sounds right to me too. If I’m going to focus on something for a whole year, it seems there should be some muscle of the spiritual or physical variety involved.
Neither the word or the verse that came to mind are so muscle-y, it turns out.
The word that keeps whispering at me as I stare down this New Year with my hopes and my anxieties and my fear of expectation is, “Unfold.”
Unfold? Unfold? Um… like what Lainey does to the clothes when she sees the laundry basket in the middle of the floor? That doesn’t sound holy or spiritual or muscle-y. It sounds… like MY effort isn’t really needed. Unfold?
But I know that’s the word. We have the rest of this deployment to navigate through a couple of Tomas-y loose ends and check-ups to attend to. We have 12 months of possibility for the year to blow my mind in wonderfulness and curve-balls.
Unfold… I feel like I’m being asked just to let it unfold. To see what transpires and to trust that there is work going on beneath the surface of it all.
On top of that, I feel like something is whispering to my soul that there are parts of me that are wound tight… Like a crumpled up piece of paper or… a school form that has gotten folded and folded and folded so many times that it looks a little ragged around the edges and it’s hard to read. There are things within me that need to unfold. And it’s NOT to be about my effort. It’s not something to resolve to be or to do. Instead it’s something to rest in and watch. It’s a ride to simply sit down on and experience.
With the word came a verse. It’s the kind of verse that tweaks my head a little bit even because it starts right in the middle of a sentence which makes me get all jittery about context and seeing the big picture but just the same THIS is the verse that keeps lapping in and out of my head.
“…being confident in this that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Wait so again… this isn’t something that I’m muscling through and DOING. It’s something happening within me that God is doing continuously?
Then I hear, “Watch it unfold.”
I have goals for the year. I do. I have a list of them. I have goals and wishes and hopes. And as I mentioned a few anxieties. And I feel like I’m being ushered out of the way on every single one. Which isn’t to say that I’m not still being asked to show up with them. I am. I need to show up. It’s just that I think I’m being asked to remember that I’m not the one at the helm on any one of them. The good works being wrought in me and in my life are being teased out and every so slowly completed by the Holy Spirit at work within me. So I have to show up… I do. But then I get out of the way.
It takes a tremendous amount of pressure off actually.
Regardless of how I feel this year I’m being called to trust that He is working continuously in me.
So I take on this new ‘word for the year’ challenge that I never really expected I’d do.
I’m going to watch and wait as it all unfolds… and parts of me do too.
P.S. After I had muddled through this whole idea of ‘One Word’ I found that a couple of my favorite blog-folk are linking up over here: One Word
Who ever expected I’d get in on something in fashion? 😉