My Words for Year 26

Friday, October 5, 2018

Photo by Lorene Farrugia on Unsplash

I’ve noticed it’s a common practice among bloggers and podcasters these days to select a single word to focus on at the start of the new year, or at the beginning of a new season of life. I’m guessing it’s easier to think about focusing on a single word rather than a laundry list of to-do’s, though for the indecisive among us (hi), there’s a lot of pressure associated with picking the right one. I want to be so many things, I think to myself. Where do I start?

With my 26th birthday approaching this Sunday, I’ve been praying a lot recently about the word I should build my life around this year. I’ve often seen fellow Catholic bloggers write about how God just “speaks” to them in prayer, laying such distinct and surprising thoughts on their hearts that they know they can’t have sprouted from within themselves. So I’ve been meditating with this question in Adoration in recent weeks, hoping that God might take the initiative and plant a definitive guidepost for these next twelve months in my soul.

But of course, God doesn’t work that way. I know this. As someone who’s taken a few professional detours on her way to building a career that she’s passionate about, and a graduate student who still, in some sense, feels she is waiting for her life to begin (cue the Tangled soundtrack), I know that God doesn’t tell me what to do.

It’s rather annoying at times, to say the very least.

Which brings me back to my recent prayer, and my thoughts about everything that’s coming up in the next year -- everything I need this one word to support for me.

I think I’ve got my life more or less figured out in the short-term: Graduate from my MA program in literature. Start school for my PhD next fall. Or teach English at the high school or middle school level in the Catholic Diocese of Denver.

I have a plan, though it’s spiced with uncertainty. Will I be admitted to PhD programs? If so, how do I pick? Will I be accepted to the one I most want to be in? How exactly do I apply for jobs in the Diocese? What if they’re not hiring English teachers, or the timing is not right for some other reason?

And of course, that doesn’t include the most terrifying question of all:

What if none of my plans work out?

I find that sometimes I approach my conversations with the Lord as I do most others: I plan out what I am going to say before the other finishes speaking. See, I have these hopes and dreams for my life, and although the Lord encourages me to bring these to Him, and it’s a practice in holiness, I believe, to place these in His care, I have to work on letting go just a little bit. I have to work on letting Him speak, and on taking the time to thoughtfully respond.

On listening to the nudges that will carry me through, or lead me down a different path than what I have in mind.

On developing sensitivity to the inner movements of my soul, the quiet spaces where God speaks loudest.

And then surrendering, day by day, with trust and confidence, just a bit more of myself to His will.

I realize this is a tall order. Idealistic, you might say. And it makes me uncomfortable, because it doesn’t come with quantifiable methods of ensuring my success. In fact, “listen and surrender” sounds like exactly the same sort of vague resolution most would frown upon, because, without any exterior metrics for improvement, it seems the sort of thing one would easily give up on.

I like instant gratification. I like chasing measurable perfection. And I am half afraid that if I focus on these two words -- listen and surrender -- I’ll reach 27 wondering if I actually did either of those things.

I want to reach 27 having crossed lots of new things off my bucket list, having chased my dreams, being able to “take stock”, so to speak, of what I’ve done to grow more into “me”, and to become the person I’m created to be.

I hear God calling me to surrender that, too. He works slowly, and He doesn’t waste anything. And if I’m able to spend the next year growing closer to him -- listening and surrendering -- then I’ll get to 27 being who He wants me to be.



Bring it on, 26.

No comments :

Post a Comment