“God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
~ II Timothy 1:7
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure…
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson
A new year is yet again upon us and I’ve been thinking. Imagine that! If you know me you know that’s an understatement, although I think it’s accurate to say that I’ve kept much of my inner thoughts to myself for quite a while now. What will this year be like? What do I want to do? What do I hope for?
One thing seems for sure to me as I consider these thoughts. Something has to give in terms of this last year, 2016! If 2017 resembles this last year too much in certain ways I am going to go insane, or at least my depression and discontent will likely reach greater depths. Somethings are going to have to be different. The hard part is deciding what those things are and then actively doing them.
As 2016 has neared its end I almost didn’t reach this point. I’ve thought, “What’s the point? is it worth it?” For a while now I think it’s accurate to say that I’ve felt very leery about doing just about anything that I’ve felt any sort of inclination to do. Can anything come from doing anything? What do I do? There are no guarantees. I wonder how much stamina I have. I wonder about my current capabilities. After months, even a few years of certain disappointment and hopes dashed I guess that’s where I’m left.
I’m coming up on 3 years in February of leaving congregational ministry and I’ve still felt lost without any terms of sure footing yet in the past year. Sure, a lot has happened. Moving onto healthcare Chaplaincy has been a fairly good transition and a decent fit for me. As of August I completed 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) which are needed for Chaplaincy certification. We just passed a years time in our new home as a family. Also, we’ve been provided for in our needs and financially as well.
Still, currently I am working two part-time Chaplain jobs both at different shifts and spanning much of the week. Especially the weekends when I want to be home with my family. 2016 also felt like a torrential roller-coaster in the job search department. Right now I feel spent in this too, and stuck. Lastly, certain aspirations sit dormant and unfulfilled as well.
3 years ago when things started unraveling a trend was emerging in replace of New Year’s resolutions that caught my attention. Since then myself along with others I know have chosen a word to focus on and be a guide during the new year ahead. I still like this idea. I don’t know how vocal I’ve been in sharing my word of choice the last few years, but for 2014 I chose Peace, and 2015, Patience. Truthfully, for 2016 I might have thought of a word early on, but I basically scrapped it or forgot about it altogether in disillusionment.
What about 2017? Well, for the past few days as I’ve prayed and considered, the one word that has consistently emerged and stirred my heart is, Courage. A close second has probably been the word, Contentment as discontent has colored much of 2016 for me. Courage though feels more prominent to me as I said above that I feel some things just need to be different going forward into 2017. Actually, contentment can probably be included as for me choosing to be content doesn’t come easy.
Front and center emotions I’ve felt as 2016 has closed have been disappointment, sadness, fear, frustration, lostness, uncertainty, despair, and with all of that, timidity. I need courage to break out of that. I need courage to believe, trust, have faith, remain patient, and be active, even take risks in the year ahead. In certain ways I think I reached a point this past year of idly waiting as well. Sure, I did and accomplished much in 2016, but I held back quite a bit as well, holding out for something to happen or change first before doing some things. That I feel is where a good amount of my frustration and discontent came from in 2016.
On the outset of 2017 I hope for things to be different in this regard. I’m thinking that instead of idly waiting for some things to come to me, I’d be better off acting in certain ways in the midst of my waiting. Besides, often things don’t just happen for many of us. Certain pursuit is necessary, good, and even stimulating.
I am still figuring out what this looks like as well. Firstly, there are some things I’ve aspired to do for much of the past year that I sort of gave up on. One of those things is blogging and I hope to do this more consistently through 2017. Right now I am thinking about a weekly post. Possibly titling it something like “The Woven Weekly” as although we may be wounded, we are also already woven into God’s greater story and work among us and throughout history as well. Yet another thing as well is that I’d like to see this blog, or at least the concept of Wound Weaver in relation to God gain more exposure/traction as the idea itself is really intriguing to me. This I’m really not sure how to do, but maybe God can help me find out.
There are still other things and I imagine more will trickle into my head in the year ahead. I want to have courage to hope, believe, trust, and even do no matter what’s really ahead for me in it. As what I feel is a prime example to close out this writing, just a couple days ago on the night of New Year’s Eve my wife mentioned a few things to me. One of those was what we had in savings currently on that last day of 2016. She then logged into our student loan account and had me guess the balance. As she shared the actual balance my heart felt quickened to actually just go right ahead and pay it off as we had enough, but it would knock down our savings once again after we had only just gotten it up to a comfortable place for us. This last thought almost made me just say nothing and just succumb to waiting once again. Then I remembered the word I had already felt inspired toward by that night; Courage. That was enough for me to turn to her and say, “Do you want to go ahead a pay it off?” We hesitated for a moment then took the leap of faith.
In what way(s) could you courageously take a step towards something or God in the year ahead? What may God be calling you to do or focus on for 2017?