Words that I hope will define this next year in some way. Filters for my decision making, goal pursuing, life shaping. New concepts for a new year. Seems appropriate enough.
In my last blog post of 2014, I pondered last year’s words: brave and intentional. As I look ahead to the next twelve months, I feel like brave is the undercurrent extending infinitely forward into all my years to come, the “understood” in God’s call for me to be everything He designed me to be. Even with two new words on my mind – rhythm and purpose – at the beginning of this year, I sense brave underneath them putting wind in their sails.
I’m not speaking rhythm and purpose into my future as promises as at all, either. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. Partially because I have bad memories of New Year’s Day lectures from my overly stern stepfather about what my sister and I should do to improve ourselves in the year to come. Want to scar a child for life? Have her sit on the couch for an hour and detail all the ways she needs to be better this year – I can’t remember a single word said, only the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and wishing I could go back to my TV show. So the thought of doing New Year’s Resolutions leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Plus I’ve failed to keep a single well-intentioned one I’ve ever made.
Rather than promises I’m making, rhythm and purpose are treasure hunts I’m on this year.
I found myself writing a lot about rhythm when I launched my blog in November. As a musician, the concept of rhythm fascinates me. Sound followed by carefully placed pause. A million expressions of noise coming together into a pattern at the foundation of song. Constant noise is static. Regular breaks are essential or else the drum roll is exhausting and no fun to listen to. I’m looking for my rhythm, the pulse behind the song God sings through me. Where is my down beat? How fast is this thing supposed to go? Do I really need more cowbell?
And then there’s purpose. A close cousin to that “intentional” word God whispered to me last year. The subtle shift this year is from a mindset of being observant into taking action with hopeful outcomes. I’m pretty good at discovering the intentions behind my actions. I need a lot more practice at choosing to do or not do based on the outcome I hope for.
I intentionally eat out of boredom and emotional consolation – caught myself at it just yesterday. I can be purposeful and choose to eat pita bread and hummus instead of pizza rolls. Or maybe even not eat at all.
I intentionally scroll through endless Pinterest screens to distract myself from feeling and processing a hard day. I could purposefully retreat to my bedroom chaise to pray.
I intentionally putter through a list of household chores to get my home in order and feel better about my homemaking skills. I purposefully choose to Sabbath instead so I have energy for the draining week ahead.
See how that works?
Of course, the purpose I choose is key to all of this. What is the outcome I’m hoping for? There’s the usual stuff: comfort, happiness, health, all the goodies. But I’d be dumb not to keep dead center in front of me the ultimate purpose we all share – to love God and love each other without reservation or selfishness. No small thing, this purpose for which He made you and me.
Just to be clear, I make no promise to find lay hold of rhythm or purpose this year, no expectation that I’ll have grand succes to report when December rolls around. But I do commit to looking, practicing, digging, even fighting for them in the months to come.
Why? Because God wants them for me.
“Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” (Matthew 11:29 Message)
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49 NIV)
What are you looking for this year?