Last year, my word was discover. It felt adventurous, curious, hopeful…I didn’t quite know what would unfold during the year, but I was sure something was unfolding.
I was right. 2017 was a mixture of many different kinds of discovery. It held triumphs and pains unlike any other year I have ever had. Discover, I learned, didn’t mean reading through National Geographic on a more routine basis, or taking more nature walks, or finding a new hobby.
Discover meant that I unearthed things about myself that I would have rather left buried. It meant that I discovered my capacity for intense pain. I learned about my Enneagram personality number, and all the necessary steps to growth that come with it. I discovered that, as emotional as I thought I was, I was not very good at feeling things in the moment. My emotions take a while to steep and process–and boy, did I have a lot to process in 2017.
Discover was a lot harder than I thought. And, honestly, welcome, my word for 2016, took a lot of unexpected twists as well.
So, as I pick fearless as my 2018 word, it’s, ironically, with a bit of fear.
It’s sort of like the story of the girl who prayed for patience, but got upset when the Lord sent turmoil into her life. I would like my fearlessness bestowed upon me in a Divine impartation.
“Do you mind, Lord, if I skip the trial and tribulation and fearful part of becoming fearless?”
For me, being fearless in 2018 means looking forward to a year that will likely involve intense change. I am planning a move across state lines sometime in this year, from Arkansas back to my native Texas. In the months to come, I will be changing jobs, changing states, changing homes, changing churches…pretty much everything constant and stable in my life will rearranged or replaced.
But that’s not all. As I discovered more about myself in 2017, I learned that I am very fearful of venturing out verbally. I might not be fearful of a giant, transformational move…but I am fearful of telling you what I think, particularly if my opinion could cause you discomfort.
As I consider the ramifications of being fearless, I wonder what it would be like to finally let go of all this burden. What if I could finally stop fearing that God disapproves of me? What if I could enter relationships freely without being afraid of others not accepting or enjoying my presence? What if I could stop second-guessing my family’s pride in me? What if I could stop reliving the haunting memories out of the fear that I will miss an important life lesson?
I have no doubt that fearless is the perfect word for this year.
There is freedom waiting for me on the other side of fear.
And, as afraid as I am of this word I have chosen, I still pick it.
May I chase it. May I study it. May I get a taste of what life could be without a drop of fear. May I lean fully into the Everlasting Arms that promise to never, ever, ever let me go.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble…
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident….
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.”
Join me in 2018 as I explore what I am learning about my journey to fearlessness! Each month, I’ll be back with a new aspect of how fearless is changing my year. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t afraid. But I’m also very excited. Won’t you come along?
“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.”
– Deb Caletti –
Bare branches in the trees are diamond crusted this morning. Hanging low and happily yellow, the sun smiles at its reflection in the powdered sugar snow.
That’s what I need, for sure.
Welcome is my word of the year, as I explained in my last post.
But I didn’t anticipate how far into me it would reverberate. I especially didn’t anticipate how much I would need to change.
But, now I see…Welcome can’t come into my life if I stay the same.
To grow a heart of welcome in me, God has to do some furniture rearranging. A dear friend of mine is currently living with my family. Today, she reminded me that welcoming in means we have to move some things out of the house. It means a bit of winter cleaning. It means we might bump into the furniture a little, because it’s in a place it has never been before.
But I learned something today about welcome—it is not just for the new people.
Sometimes, doors in your heart get partly shut. Sometimes, the hinges get a little rusty. And sometimes we avoid some halls in our hearts. They’re a part of us…but we cease to welcome them.
Maybe it is more tragic to be an insider who is not welcomed than it is to be an unwelcome newcomer.
I realized that, in my pursuit of welcome, my family was losing me. Somehow, my most favorite people were getting shut out.
It began when I decided not to tell a family member about certain thoughts or feelings, because I didn’t think they would understand. So gradually, I bumped that door, closing it more and more…
Until this morning, they came face-to-face with me, and I confessed that I feared telling them my true thoughts, because I didn’t want my feelings to be dismissed. They were shocked and saddened that I had not opened my heart-door and told them before.
I had been wrapping myself in silence–in a lack of welcome–in this relationship. And it took a toll. In my reluctance to bring them into my inner self, I pushed them away. I shut my door. I was slowly eroding a priceless relationship, by my own self-focus.
So I took a risk, when I confessed my hiding today.
And the sun came out, glistening on the snow.
Are relationships hard? Absolutely. Are they messy? Sure. Sometimes it seems better to hold certain thoughts inside…it seems safer. Definitely less complicated.
But love often means sharing anyway, making your feelings vulnerable to criticism…and also open to understanding. Love means you welcome the other person into your heart anyway. It means you risk getting hurt..but it also means you open yourself up to grace.
Don’t stuff it all in and walk away from conversations frustrated that, once again, they do not understand you. How could they? You never told them.
I think we can hide from our families, even while rubbing shoulders with them every day. We can put walls up to keep ourselves safe, exhausting ourselves with needless protectiveness.
So I am posting a new welcome sign on my heart:
Welcome, family. You, too, are welcome in my heart. In fact, I’ll make you duplicates of my key, okay? Then you can come in whenever you like.
In fact, could you come right away? I’ve been missing you.
If you are joining me on the journey to Welcome this year, how are you doing in your family? Have you shut a door in your heart? Is there a hallway barricaded? What old relationship needs a little oil and polish?
Don’t shut out your biggest fans. God gave you to them for a reason. He can give you the grace to open the door again.
Why don’t you ask Him right now?
“He gives families to the lonely, and releases prisoners from jail, singing with joy!”
– Psalm 68:6, TLB –
“May your walls know joy; may each room hold laughter, and may every window open to great possibility.”
– Mary Ann Radwacher-Hershey –
For this new year, instead of making a list of goals, I chose a word.
I lay awake just after midnight, in the first minutes of January 1st, and the word welcome jumped to life in my head.
For the past few months, I’ve been curiously poking around at the impact of community. I’m collecting articles of all sorts–on loneliness, crime, orphanages, homelessness, imprisonment–anywhere that isolation rears its head, I want to learn about it. More importantly, I want to know what Christians can do about it…what I can do about it. How could the Gospel I believe penetrate all these varieties of loneliness? Because I know it can.
This is why welcome is my word for 2016.
Meanwhile, God is doing things in my family that I would have never guessed. Our family is growing by “adoption” as individuals and families are coming into our home for a few hours…or a few months. Like never before, I am getting to welcome in new family members into the ups and downs of my everyday life. Not just company. Not just bringing them into a freshly-cleaned house for pre-planned hospitality. They’re literally living in my space. Literally becoming part of us. Literally looking for a home that we can offer.
Welcome, my friends. Welcome, my new family. Welcome.
At the same time, I am trying to learn how to welcome my brother and parents, in the context of time spent together. I am amazed that I have known them all my life, and yet still their desires and personalities baffle me so often. As part of welcoming them into my heart, I am beginning to discover –or at least trying to discover– what they love the most. “How can I be a blessing to them, today?” I am learning to ask. Not that it is easy…but maybe love is so beautiful because it takes work. It takes real heart, not just the leftovers.
This a year of learning to welcome.
What will the journey of 2016 look like? What new experiences will God call me to welcome into my life? What people will He give me to welcome into my space, my heart? What wisdom can I welcome into my soul? What joy can I make room for?
“….Good should be your objective always, among yourselves and in the world at large. Be happy in your faith at all times. Never stop praying. Be thankful, whatever the circumstances may be. If you follow this advice you will be working out the will of God expressed to you in Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Thessalonions 5:16-18, Phillips –
Why choose the word welcome?
Welcome is an expression of joy at the arrival of something or someone. It stems from the idea of a pleasing, wished-for visit.
Making space for welcome in my year means making myself available for the journey God has for me. It means opening my eyes to opportunities I might otherwise ignore. Most importantly, it means becoming like Jesus, compassionately touching all those who enter my life in the days ahead. In His strength, I wish for my face to be a restful home for the weary.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
– Matthew 10:40-42, NIV –
That’s why I chose welcome for 2016. It’s about cups of water–giving away lots and lots of clear water to thirsty little ones.
It’s my joy. In fact, I think it is why I was made.
Will you choose a word for the year, or do you prefer to write out goals for the next 12 months? Whatever you choose, let me know in the comments! You all inspire me!
“I am strangely glad to get back again to you: and wherever you are is my home—my only home.”
― Charlotte Brontë,