It's probably a silly thing that I do. I probably project my emotions onto a decision that I mindlessly make. It might be overthought and unnecessary, but sometimes the most ridiculous things are what bring you the most peace. For me, one of those things happens to be having a word of the year. Whether or not the whole thing is totally in my head it's one of my favorite decisions/realizations.
My word for 2016 was ACT, or maybe ACTS, or even ACTIONS just depending on the day. 2015 was BRAVE. 2014 was PRESENT. 2013 was STILL. Every time a word is chosen, whether it be spiritual or all in my head, I can look back on that year and see it through that filter.
I can be a little high strung sometimes and I may or may not have stressed a little when months had gone by in 2016 and I hadn't been set on a word. My soul was finally stirred while in conversation with a friend. I was putting together that I had only read one book that entire year so far: Acts. It started at the beginning of the year with a study in Acts. I wanted to learn what the early group of believers did with their time together. Did they immediately go and find an industrial chic building to begin meeting in, fill it up with lights, and start bumping some Carman or Audio Adrenaline? If they had started there, was that even wrong? What, if any, were their responsibilities to their neighbors (near and far) as individuals and as an organized community? Are we way off base on it all or are we still headed the right direction? I later found myself knee deep in a Bible study on Acts; sorting through someone else's thoughts, wondering why specific parts spoke more to them while others were the ones that tore me up. By the time I got to this conversation I had also listened through a reading of the book (super side note: there's something refreshing and new that happens when you listen to words being read out loud that might not seem so fresh anymore) and was currently listening to a sermon series on it with Wil. All accidental on my behalf, though I have quite the suspicion that the accidental part was only from my side.
Thus the word was chosen and this one wrecked me more than any others have. I was wrecked to the point of questioning everything I had put in my life. Which of the choices that I've made have enabled me to serve other people? Which are hindering my ability to drop all of my "things" and give of myself to others?
Now don't even start thinking that this is the part where I tell you I figured it all out, raised a trillion dollars for charity, and I single-handed-ly saved a third world nation. If we're being honest I don't have anything tangible to show from my focus over the last year. What I do have is a mind and heart that is slowly but surely being altered for the better.
I could go in to detail on how this was a frustrating process for me. That I was occasionally disappointed by myself and others while looking at life through this lens. I could also brag on the incredible people I know and how I go to watch them change the world last year. But, these are things best served with coffee.
What I will tell you is that there is power in consciously empowering yourself to make changes in your own thoughts and actions. At times it will seem so slow that you'll wonder if you ever left square one. Someday's you'll think you reached your own personal nirvana and then the next day you'll throw all of your process in the trash. But when you give yourself time and room for growth it happens.
I'm (very obviously) not an expert in making changes or in closing the gap between who you are and who you want to be. I woke up at 11am this morning and drank enough coffee that I called it breakfast all while wearing workout clothes that have no idea what sweating feels like. I hesitate even writing about my word because I still cringe a little when Jesus tells me I have another third world nation to rescue from the bubonic plague (please note that that statement is in the nonexistent sarcasm font and I tried spelling it boob-on-nik). I am here to record my process so one day when I do have this all figured out (har-har) ((and stop interjecting my own thoughts with parenthesis every other sentence)) I can look back and see that I am growing and I'm not the same person I once was.