I’ve been stressed for days.
Not only are a million things hanging over my head, but I’m also struggling to find a word to give the coming year a focus. A theme. Direction.
I’ve done this for years. My word will help guide me and symbolize what I want to accomplish. It will define my priorities in 2015.
I choose one word or phrase because there are so many things I want to do, to achieve, to become. If I tried to change them all, I would fail miserably. Especially because most of what I see are my failures.
The ways I fall short are legion.
I yearn to read more books. Have longer quiet times. Pray thoughtfully for everyone I committed to pray for. Declutter. Cook more family meals. Get less take-out. Share meaningful family devotions. Have family devotions at all. Be more organized. Spend more time with my daughters.
I imagine that if I just worked harder, managed my time better, disciplined myself more, then somehow everything would get done. And when it does, I’d finally be free to enjoy life.
But the truth is, I will never get to the bottom of my to-do list. So I choose a word to narrow my focus for the coming year. That way I can concentrate on one thing, and try to effect change, rather than write a long list of resolutions that will overwhelm me by month’s end.
So my New Year’s word is important. It must encompass my vision for the year.
I had a short list of several words, yet none of them felt right. I always ask God to guide me, and I start by listing the things I want to do differently, the places I need to improve, the things that need to change. In short, I list my failures. (I know, it sounds like an encouraging process.)
As I sat with the Lord, I was struck by the busyness of my life, and how hard it was to narrow my focus to one thing. I wanted to write this post on my word, which added even more pressure to the process. Since I often don’t know what I think until I start writing, I started tapping out some ideas on my keyboard, hoping it would all come together.
As I started writing, the story of Mary and Martha came to mind. Martha too was busy, and with good reason.
In Luke 10, Jesus and His disciples were travelling around, and Martha graciously welcomed them into her home. And she was busy serving. After all, there were guests in her house AND THEY ALL NEEDED TO BE FED.
Of course Martha needed help. Who else was going to make dinner and serve it? It was Martha and Mary’s house. Why was Mary not helping? Didn’t she see the immediate need?
What could be more important than feeding Jesus? And serving His disciples?
Suddenly, to me, that question was more relevant than ever.
I reread the Biblical account. Jesus tells Martha, who has pressing needs to meet just as I do, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha was anxious about many things. But one thing was necessary. The only lasting thing.
Then it hit me.
I had just wondered, ‘What could be more important than feeding Jesus? And serving His disciples?’
The answer was obvious. The one thing that’s more important than feeding Jesus, is letting Jesus feed me. I need His food; He doesn’t need mine. He can feed 5000 with five loaves and two fishes.
But me. I need to sit at His feet. Taste His food. Savor it long. This is what gives me life.
I knew then what my word for 2015 needed to be. SAVOR.
I need to savor each moment.
Savor time with my friends. Savor time with my teenaged daughters. Savor time with my fiancé. And most importantly, savor time with God. All of these moments and these exchanges are sacred. They shouldn’t be rushed.
I don’t know how to live unrushed.
I know how to rush. And scramble. And hurry. To scratch off items on my to-do list, and still feel unsatisfied at the end of the day. That is familiar.
So how do I learn to savor? Even as I type this, I’m trying to figure it out. I know that I need to put aside the non-essentials.
Rather than decluttering my house, I need to declutter my life.
Decluttering means simplifying my life and my priorities. Several years ago, a friend mentioned that she was intentionally building more margin into her life after reading a book about it. The idea was compelling but I honestly had no time to read the book, let alone implement it.
No time to create margin. How ironic.
I need margin in my life if I want to savor anything. I can’t have every moment scheduled with tasks leaving no time for rest. Or people. Or even interruptions.
But even as I write these words, and commit to SAVOR, I confess I am terrified. What if I fail at this too? What if I continue to cram too much into my days, and don’t enjoy the people, the moments, the opportunities that God is putting before me. What if I don’t really live?
And then I remember. It’s all about Jesus. He gives me the power to forsake sin and live righteously. He will help me reorient my perspective. Refocus my priorities. Savor what He has given me. Savor Him.
There is such freedom in knowing that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. There is freedom in the invitation to let go of my expectations and sit at His feet.
And so, this year I want to SAVOR the Lord and the life He is giving me.
Do you have a word for 2015? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.