It’s January, and some of you might be part of the One Word phenomenon. (If you want to understand more about One Word, here’s an excellent blog post from writer Lisa Bartelt on her word for 2018. Or you can visit the One Word 365 site.)
This year—because apparently I can never be normal—I ended up with five words—but they were all words I felt God wanted me to focus on.
The first came a few weeks ago as I readied myself to go somewhere, work at Ten Thousand Villages, maybe. This was the word: “Face,” as in “face-to-face.” Be present, look people in the eye, pay attention, listen, stay focused on them.
And then suddenly, in that quirky (so much nicer sounding than “weird”) way my mind functions, I had five words I was scribbling down on a piece of scrap paper. And they all rhymed, all ended in “ace.” I’m not a poet, but maybe God thought I would remember them better this way.
I’ve had a chaotic eight months or so. My two-day-a-week job at Ten Thousand Villages was mostly three to four days a week due to a variety of factors in the lives of other staff members. I had several fall speaking engagements that required brand-new programs to be developed, all interesting, but time consuming. I had more work than I expected from writing and editing clients, which was a true gift from God, but still a major time commitment. Les and I barely saw each other—I was working his two days off plus others; he was at meetings many evenings.
And so, I’ve been tired, strung out, frazzled. I kept telling people I needed to go back and read my own book, Finding Balance in the Circus of Life. I laughed when I said it, but it felt truer than I wished to admit.
My 2018 words, even the first one, came from that place. I had been too busy to really see people, to focus on anyone else. Thus God’s call to “face” others.
“Place” came at me next. If I was going to live a less chaotic life, I had to remember the place God has called me to. I need to live out that calling and be more deliberate about saying “No” to other opportunities and obligations that don’t fit that. I am afflicted with “FOMO”—fear of missing out—and so I hate to skip an opportunity, an adventure, a meetup, a conference. But if I am going to do the work God created me for—as admonished in Ephesians 2:10—I have to choose to miss out.
Another thing neglected this year was my home. “Space” was added to my word list. One of my MasterMind group goals had been to get my office cleaned out, edited down, and turned into an environment I welcomed entering. I’m still knee deep in clearing out the clutter, the accumulated files, the dust rhinos, but I am so pleased with the results. I want to do more to make our home a place Les and I both love to come home to. (We suddenly seem obsessed with dates to Home Goods.)
“Pace” intersects with the previous three. I’m not as young as I once was. I cannot handle the overpacked schedule of someone half my age. I know stress is a factor in my autoimmune disease, so I should be extra-cautious about overstressing my life. But mostly, to be honest, I just want a pace that allows me to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me and to enjoy my life, including the people in it.
My final word is that one that has me confident I am going to “ace” 2018. That word is “grace.” Grace for myself, grace for others. I had five goals in my MasterMind 90-day challenge that just ended. I didn’t accomplish one of them. But I made progress on all of them (well, I didn’t actually lose any weight, but I didn’t gain any over the holiday period either, so I’m calling that a partial win). And that progress is good.
Grace lets me off the hook. Perfection’s not coming any time soon. But progress is good.
Grace lets you off the hook. And keeps me from anger and frustration, as I work to assume your good intentions, as I remember that, like me, you’re not approaching perfection.
I won’t always give the people around me the face time they deserve this year. My place won’t be perfectly lived every day of 2018. My space will likely have some dusty and overpacked corners when 2019 arrives. Frantic days (or months) might throw off my pace somewhere along the way.
But grace can prevail. Grace can carry me through.
I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.