No, my word is not "TA DA."
But, I'm not going to reveal it right up front.
Gonna make you "wait for it…wait for it…"
Because first of all, I have to tell you how much it surprised me.
When I started blogging in 2010, I approached the end of the year with great anticipation. I couldn't wait to write about Christmas.
But then, as the new year approached, I noticed bloggers talking about their *word* for the coming new year. Wordsmith that I am – (recovering English major) – I wanted to join in on this tradition.
But…I did not want to hand-pick my word.
I wanted God to do it.
And He did.
Therefore, the word for 2011 was DETERMINED. It was a year when many things happened, just like every year really. But as the year came to a close, I saw how God had helped me become more determined in my faith.
Determined to hold on to Him no matter what.
In 2012, He gave me the word OVERCOME. And, yes, it was a word that was a truthful theme for the year. "The Hub" and I moved from the home and city that I had lived in for almost 29 years. And yes, indeed, there were many things to overcome. Physical challenges – (moving is NOT pretty after 29 years of pack-ratting fun) – and emotional challenges.
God helped me overcome many obstacles as I re-adjusted myself to a new place and life in the mountains.
So, 2013 arrived, and God spoke the word DIRECTION. I liked this word, my favorite so far. Good, I thought to myself, this year God is going to give me a clear direction as to what He wants me to do. Where He wants me to go. How I can do His work in a way that is satisfying to me. (Arrogant? Self-serving? Maybe, but truthful…)
However, a few weeks ago, when I was reflecting on the past year, I wasn't sure how God had given me direction this year. There was no huge revealing, no fantastic new avenue of ministry – if I was honest about it, I still felt stuck in the same place as I had been at the beginning of the year.
Until God had to tell me how I was wrong.
Indeed, the direction He had given me was, "Follow Me closer."
And as this past year comes to an end, I can see in my backward glance how I have learned to follow Him closer. I can see how He has revealed to me that one of His directives for me up on the mountaintop is to learn how to rest in His near presence.
So, you see, I have come to realize that the word God gives me becomes a sort of *theme* for the year. It's one of the reasons that I don't want to pick it. I don't want to pre-dictate, if you will, what happens in my faith walk.
God knows it already, so it's good to get the word from Him!
However, this is precisely why I am struggling with this coming year's word – (the big reveal…)
I don't get it. It doesn't fit somehow. Oddly enough, I am not terribly joyful to receive it.
Let me explain.
First of all, I looked up SHARON in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary. It reads:
H as to
O n and on
Yup. I am not a *joyful* person by nature.
I tend to be negative (which I euphemistically like to call "realistic"). I tend to ponder the in's and out's of life like a rat in a maze searching for my way, but mostly banging my head on the dead-ends. I have a propensity to complain. And, being a Nervous Nellie, I am never quite calm or settled or content.
Certainly not JOY-full.
NO ONE would say that about me. (Ask my family, they'll tell you the truth!)
So, I'm kinda rebelling against my new word.
For you see, the *WORD* for the year always turns out to be both a command and a promise. I see how that has played out in the past three years.
And JOY, as a command – ouch.
Really tough for me. That verse – "Rejoice in the Lord…I say again rejoice" – well, I always hear that verse in a forcefully disciplinary tone.
It sounds more like this to my ears: "Sharon, rejoice (insert stern voice here: "Stop moping around and paste on a happy face right this minute")…I say again, rejoice (OR ELSE)."
And as a promise?
Having trouble with that, too. All I see are the problems surrounding me. Especially the continued deterioration of my parents, and especially the slippery slope of dementia that my father is sliding down…rapidly.
I see decisions ahead in this coming month about the next step of care. I see more times with him when he's angry and confrontational. I see pain, and hurt, and disappointment in my future. I do not see joy.
And, if I'm being completely honest, I'm not liking this word because I don't want to give up my *right* to complain. I actually like being negative sometimes – (I will easily give up the nervous, though). When I'm not feeling joyful, I don't WANT to feel joyful.
I want to pout or whine or throw that big old Pity Party that I love attending.
Being joyful sounds challenging to me, daunting in its expectations.
It sounds like a jacket that is too tight for me to wear.
Oh, how I would have loved hearing a different word – like HOPE or PEACE or even, TRUST.
But, God was quite clear in His message.
JOY for 2014.
As I pondered this word – (truthfully, just trying to wrap my head and heart around it) – I remembered an old Sunday School song. As I recall it, the chorus went something like this:
"Jesus and Others and You – what a wonderful way to spell JOY."
Yeah, so I'm thinking about that definition this way:
Jesus – OK, sure, I love you, Lord. So this part is good.
Others – That means giving of myself to others. And that says *parents* to me. I'm tired. I don't want to serve them anymore. Fifth Commandment work is very, very hard right now.
You – I don't mind being last. I'm just glad to make the list.
But as I thought about it more, I heard His still, small voice. And He told me that while that old song had been accurate in its theology, He had a different meaning for me.
This is how He means it…
I sighed in the deepest part of my soul when He said this. I actually felt joy at this definition. Somehow it released me to feel all the negative stuff that I know will come this year – for all I have to do is turn to Him, lean on Him, focus on Him – ONLY Him – and somehow HE will fill me with JOY. (HIS joy, not something I have to drum up inside of myself, by myself...)
For the last couple of years, the Lord has been asking me a question, over and over and over.
"Sharon, is it really just Me?"
And I can see that in this coming year, I am going to get the chance to answer.
"Jesus, only You."
So, Lord, I will accept Your word for me in 2014. But I am having some trouble understanding all the ramifications. (Yes, I see the irony. A person who has trouble with the concept of JOY – then being given that word for the coming year – and then struggling to be happy about accepting it!)
At this moment in January, I am contemplating this monumental word.
Truthfully? I am skeptical. I am doubting the Lord's ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of making my spirit celebrate life in a way that doesn't come easy for me.
I tell Him that, just one more time.
"Lord, I'm not seeing how You're going to achieve this.
How are You going to re-shape a Negative, Nervous Nellie into a joyful person?"
And He answers:
"Just watch Me!"
How the Lord is going to make this happen is far beyond me.
And that, probably, is the whole point.
I love you, Jesus, with all my heart.
"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for JOY. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." (James 1:2-3, NLT)
"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of JOY." (Psalm 126:5, NIV)
"May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (Romans 15:13, ESV)
"'I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.'" (John 15:11, NIV)
"'Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your JOY away from you.'"
(John 16:22, NASB)
What's your *word* for 2014? And how are you reacting to it?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAY
Rosilind at A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS
Kasey at WALKING REDEEMED
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Beth at THREE WORD WEDNESDAY
Judith at WHOLE-HEARTED WEDNESDAYS
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Lyli at THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY
Bonnie at FAITH BARISTA
Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
Salina at HEART REFLECTED
Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"