"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Year of ENOUGH


(Note: This picture has nothing to do with the blog that follows. It's just awesome and that is enough.)

Already, another year has begun. And every New Year brings a promise of a fresh start. We resolve this is the year. This is the one where we are healthier, smarter, more confident, more organized, more together versions of ourselves and every year, we fail. Again. Usually a few weeks after those resolutions are made. I quit making them years ago but instead have moved to choosing one word. Just a single word, one God and I come up with and together, we work towards. There has been the year of JOY, the year of PRESENCE, the year of UNDIVIDED and then it came time to pick a word for this year. Even with just one word, I found myself in a constant struggle. A cycle of failing. The exercise isn’t meant to produce that kind of thinking, but every time, I undoubtedly found myself struggling to find JOY, PRESENCE, and UNDIVISION. And I even considered forgoing the whole ONE WORD exercise again this year…but, then it hit me.

Growth always comes from struggle. Focusing on one single word for God to hone and cultivate in me wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped because often times it became a resolution in disguise. Just be more joyful, Catherine. Just be more present, Catherine. Just be more undivided, Catherine. These were things that I could never just be more of, but they were areas that He needed to prune in me and purify. Every new word, He always presented opportunities. Opportunities to choose joy instead of despair, to be present instead of disengaged, and to be undivided instead of scattered. Sometimes I chose correctly and sometimes I didn’t. But the exercise of the spiritual will to go to my Father with that word was what strengthened me and changed me and molded me a little better than I was before. That is what fancy theologians refer to as sanctification, the act of becoming a bit more like Jesus.

So this year has come and the question has been, what shall be my word? Last year felt frenzied and frenetic. It wasn’t overwhelmingly sad or happy, it was blurry and unremarkable in so many ways because the speed of which I lived left little room for memory making or soaking up the moment. It had hard moments, but I can’t even pinpoint them. It left me numb more than anything because I just.dont.know. what happened. When water levels rise and you feel like you’re flailing, recollections are the first things to go. It wasn’t a bad year, don’t get me wrong. It just was. And I’ve come to the conclusion that life is too precious and too short to have just was years. They need to be good and hard mixed together, bitter and sweet. Because the hard makes the good taste so much sweeter. It has to be a mix.

But when we pace ourselves on the hamster wheel at such a rate that we can’t even see anything, it’s too much. It’s time to step back and do some deep soul wrestling with God on how we make this a year we can taste and feel, even if it is challenging at times.

What word could encapsulate all I need God to teach and grow me in this year? I kept thinking how 2015 was just too much. It was too much on the calendar. Too much stuff as evidenced by a house busting at the seams with clutter. Too much go, go, going. But it was also not sufficient either. There wasn’t enough time to do all the things I had planned to do last year. Not enough memories made with my people because work and life just moved at a neck breaking speed. It was loud and noisy most of the time, there weren’t very many moments of silence. We were plugged in more than we should’ve been and there wasn’t any whitespace.

I said too many yeses.

I gave too much in some ways.

I felt like I didn’t give like I should’ve in others.

I was tired. Dizzy. Discombobulated.

There is a great Proverb that talks about these extremes. It says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)

It’s talking about money, but its application runs much broader and deeper. When we are dealing with having too much: too much on our calendars, in our headspace, with our commitments and obligations, we start to disown God. We start to say “Who is the Lord?” because we don’t have time to find out, we forget that He is our sustainer of all our yeses and calendar and to do lists. We quit consulting Him and we trick ourselves into believing that we are the creator and maintainer of our world. It all relies on me. I am the master juggler and it is all my duty to keep all the balls in the air. But inevitably, they all come tumbling down and we learn the truth. Often times at the expense of our pride and our health.

But then there is the other extreme. The one in which we don’t seem to have quite what we need. Deficient on time we begin to steal it, usually from the people to whom we owe it the most—our spouse, our kids, our friends. We lack the margin to refresh and renew and so we take away the hours of the night meant to rest our weary bodies and build them afresh for the next day. And in doing so, we dishonor our God because the problem is the same as when we had too much: we think we are in control of our destinies and fulfilling our needs so thievery becomes a justified solution.

This year, I needed a word that dealt with both extremes because I am an extreme kind of girl. I’m all or nothing. 150 miles at hour or a screeching halt. There isn’t much in between with this one.

Enough.

I need 2016 to be the year of just enough. No more. No less.

I need to know that right now, as I am, it.is.enough. I need to be able to say to others, “hey, here is what I have to offer right now.” And let it be enough. I need to turn my eyes from always wanting more and more and let what I have be enough. I need to let Jesus be the source of my emotional state and for that to be enough. I need to be able to say no sometimes, without loquacious explanations and that be enough. I need to say “that’s a great idea! I’ll pray for and support you in the pursuit of that.” Without putting my hands on anything and let that be enough. I need to focus my energies and my talents on the things that set a fire to my soul and let that be enough. I need to be able to say “I want to spend time with you friend in my messy house without a spread of well thought out snack fare.” And that be enough. I need to have the faith of a little boy with a drum, offering what he can or a widow, with just two pennies to her name, putting it all in. Small offerings in the scheme, but everything they had to offer in the moment. That is what the year of enough must be.

I hesitate when I write these words because I know it automatically can get interpreted as a cry to stop asking for me to be a part of so many wonderful and inspiring opportunities. That isn’t what the year of enough is about. It isn’t saying no to everything that comes across my path. It’s about tempering my yeses with that which is available in my reservoir. God has been very clear with me on this year and the things He has for me. In some ways, it looks like more being added to my seemingly overfilled plate. But that’s not the case. He simply revealed to me the things that He has built me for. Three passions I have that I must filter my yeses through this year. If the question doesn’t relate to one of the three, then it will be too much. Enough is a balancing act of epic proportion because our individual “enoughs” are so specific to how we are built. I’ve realized my threshold is perhaps greater than most in some areas and lesser than most in others. It’s handing my puzzle pieces to God and letting Him fit them together in a way that is completely unique to me and me alone.

The year of ENOUGH is about letting the words Paul heard from the Lord thunder deep down in my soul, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

His grace is it. It’s enough. It fills in all my gaps. He gives just what I need to do just what He has. All the time I need. All the resources I need. Everything. He gives just enough.

And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

I wonder if you’re searching for a word this year. If you’re tired of resolving and failing, resolving and failing. Maybe this is your year for just what you need, no more, no less.

Here’s to the year of enough!
Until next time,

-C.

Do you do “one word”? If so, what’s your word this year?

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