Do you ever choose a word to define your direction for the coming year? Last year's word was "seek." I did do some seeking. Can't exactly say I did much finding, sigh. But I have found that between the openmindedness of 2012 and the search for the truth in 2013, I have in fact learned a lot. My opinions aren't always as simple, but they seem more honest. With time, I have shed ideas that I just picked up by osmosis and never considered, and replaced them with a few things that I really am sure of.
When I look at my faith life, I don't feel I've made much progress. I still am plagued by the same doubts I was a year ago. But in one respect I've grown, and it's this: I have stopped holding back because of doubt, thinking I can't do anything until I'm more sure. Instead I have been actively seeking truth -- and that means actual reading and praying. I haven't been letting doubt be an excuse for apathy. And I do feel good about that.
It didn't take me long to choose my word for 2014. It never does -- every year I've done this, there is one word that comes straight to my mind, and there is never any other word that seems right. When I closed my eyes and asked myself, "What is the word?" the answer was instant:
It's strange, last year was more active than previously, and I thought maybe this year I'd "close" a little more and have a word with more answers attached. But "wait" feels right.
It first occurred to me from thinking about the kids. The number one thing I want to do better as a mother is to yell less. I get caught by surprise by a disaster -- oatmeal poured on the floor, milk spilled on the couch -- and before I even know what I'm doing, I'm yelling at everybody. It's like I feel the need to react instantly. I need to remember that unless someone is bleeding, it's always okay to wait until I am calm before trying to act. To bite back the first two or three things that come to my mouth and wait till I have something kind to say. So this meaning of "wait" is just about patience, being patient with my children.
But with faith as well, I think it's time to wait. Someone pointed out (it was probably Enbrethiliel) that faith is a gift. I got upset, because I thought, "Is the only reason I struggle to believe because God refuses to give me a gift he's given so many other people?"
Then I remembered that I am 27 years old. I don't know how many years I will live, but God does. I don't think he intends to leave me hanging forever. I think he has a path in mind for me to come to him, and if I draw as close to him as I can and wait for his response, he will come to me. All I have to do is be there, to stay where he can find me, doing my part, but without imagining it all depends on me. God's way of finding me, my way of finding him, is unique and maybe it's going to take time.
"With an anvil-ding
And with fire in him forge thy will
Or rather, rather then, stealing as spring
Through him, melt him but master him still:
Whether at once, as once at a crash Paul,
Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
Make mercy out of all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King."
(Gerard Manley Hopkins, of course)
The third thing that is troubling me right now is impatience. How badly I want to have a farm. How little progress it seems like we're making. We can't get out of here until we've paid down our debt (or raised our income by a lot), and the progress is so slow. It seems I'll never have my dream, not even a tiny bit of it.
But every single month, we have less debt. It may be a tiny bit, but we are moving. Despite all the setbacks, the car repairs and the inflation and the grocery bill that's double what we spent a few short years ago, we are making progress. All I have to do is wait. God willing, we'll get a raise or a better job and be able to make faster progress, but even if we don't, that debt will be gone someday. I need to stop complaining.
Last of all, I need to deal with my worries for the future. When I think about the future lately, I start to panic. What if inflation really does spiral completely out of control, what will we do if John loses his job, how do I know things will be okay? And the answer to that, too, is wait. I can't solve tomorrow's problems today. All I can solve (if I'm lucky) are today's problems. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
Do you have a word for 2014?