In late December 2012, I stumbled upon a website called OneWord365.com that invited bloggers and twitter-ers to pick one word to be their focus for the entire year. After a moment’s hesitation, I settled on grace.
It was a bumpy ride. Sometimes I loved the word and sometimes I furiously rebelled against it. When I had no words to describe it, God told that grace means freedom and second chances. I learned the meaning of the words “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound” from Romans 5:20. I had moments of relapse into sin when I thought there was no way God could show grace to me. I discovered how to hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. I learned that grace relaxes perfectionism and doesn’t demand her own way. I could not understand it, but I tried. I compared grace to a waterfall, never-ceasing, faithful, and strong.
To quote one of the first posts I wrote about Grace:
“I heard somewhere that humans were not made to withstand every shake. Just as tall buildings in earthquake-prone areas are made with a bit of flexibility to them, so also are people made to ‘wobble’ a bit. Grace is what lets us struggle like buildings in an earthquake. If we were always strong, we would never wobble, and a single catastrophe would ruin our lives. But if we allow ourselves to struggle, if we allow ourselves grace, we will not crumble at the first sign of disaster. We will weather the storm. Don’t bottle it in; let yourself feel and move and wobble.”
Grace is what lets us struggle. And struggle I did, all year long. But it was a good kind of struggle. It was the kind of struggle that lets me fight just long enough to know that I am not struggling to be free. I am free. I am struggling to feel my freedom. I am struggling to know my name. I am struggling to know my grace.
With this, I say goodbye to 2013. Grace will be a lifelong journey, but a new word is on the horizon.
As 2014 dawns, I want to let you in on a little secret that is not very secret. In 2014, I am undertaking three very new events in my life.
- I’m spending over three months in Asia where I’ll be student teaching in Thailand and visiting friends in Hong Kong (January to April)
- I’m graduating college, all while finishing student teaching requirements well and attempting to make sense of the job market (April to May)
- I’m finding a job, a place to live, a community, a church, service opportunities, the finances necessary to live on my own, the resources needed to live with roommates, etc, etc. (May to December)
I don’t know how I’m going to do it. The good news is that I’m not doing it alone. And I’m not doing it blindly. I’ve set a goal, a OneWord for 2014, to pursue and keep my eyes open for. This year, that word is Discovery.
I toyed with choosing the words “change” and “transition,” but the fact is that change is inevitable. And by choosing a word with such negative connotations, I thought I might set myself up for disappointment. I thought about “faithful” as a reminder to be myself throughout the change. But that didn’t fulfill my goal of being changed by the change. I aimed to find a word that let me stay faithful to who I am while still allowing me to change. I strove for a word that would acknowledge that life is a journey full of adventures and… Discoveries. Life is a journey full of making discoveries about oneself, other people, one’s world and circumstances, and more. In fact, the prompt for my student teaching journal is: What have I learned about myself, teaching, and the world today? I began to see that it is not only what I have learned, but what I have discovered.
To discover is to notice, realize, see, gain knowledge of, to uncover, or find out. I want this to be a year of realizing, of learning, and of encountering. I want 2014 to be a year of not only observing, but also participating in, because the best discoveries occur when the archeologists climb into the caves and get their hands dirty, even if they are scientists.
I guarantee this year won’t be any less bumpier than last year, but it will be another 365 days in this crazy journey called life.
Looking forward to 2014!