Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Reflections on my 2017 Word of the Year

There is something about the end of a year that makes me want to write.  Friends might call it processing, a somewhat annoying endearing trait of mine.

I prefer to call it reflecting. Taking a glimpse at the past as a springboard for the future.

Truth is, I do this almost on a daily basis. In recent years, I've learned to call it 'paying attention'. Noticing. Contemplating.

Journaling is a lifeline for me in engaging this practice. I can see three journals that I have filled in the past two years right from where I'm sitting. A friend has informed me that the very first thing she is going to do when I die is read through all of my journals. I'm not sure whether to be flattered or terrified.

So usually my reflecting is a personal practice between God and me. He is super nice about my ramblings.

But occasionally, I get the courage to share my reflections with others. So I've dusted off this old blog of mine and started pounding away at the keyboard before my courage fades - or I find something new to process, whichever comes first.

My word for 2017 was Wonder. I have never so fully embraced a word. I jumped into Wonder with both feet, heart wide open. I wanted to give myself space to wonder about who God is and who I am because of Him. I wanted to let go of my old ways of proving myself and simply show up. I was wondering what that kind of freedom might look like. 

This meant I tackled my preconceived ideas about who God is and who I am because of Him through conversations with dear and wise friends and sisters, spiritual guidance, books and asking God about the questions stirring in my soul.

I attended retreats, visited churches unlike my own, participated in a weeklong relational healing training, engaged with people as safe and known as my pastor and as diverse as a Catholic sister and a charasmatic preacher. I helped start two different prayer groups, and began to pray freely with friends, for friends, with my kids, for my kids, with my husband, for my husband. I spent many hours talking with my husband about the learnings of this journey. I learned to feel comfortable with discomfort as I asked questions I never considered asking before.

My thirst for Wonder was almost unquenchable. It was joyful, unsettling, exciting and frightening all wrapped into one.

But by the end of the year, my attitude had shifted. I came limping into the last months, beginning to notice a change in my focus. Instead of wonder, I was back to striving. Instead of joy, I was caught in the throes of deep angst. Fear of failure was close at my heels in multiple areas of my life.

All of this wondering had opened my heart wide to God and to others and to showing up in ways I had never shown up before with my family, with my friends and with my church.

But suddenly I just felt a strong desire to hide. It was a year of big emotions and I was tired.

Click here for part 2

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