embrace: my one word for 2018
You've probably heard of this thing where people choose (or feel called to) a word to describe the year ahead of them. If you haven't heard of it before, well, now you have. That's all there is to it! I've participated in this type of "resolution" for the last three years.
Past words for the year:
I chose this word because it was something I wanted to grow in. I can tell you now that it's not something I've arrived at. I'm constantly working on becoming more intentional. Sometimes I'm completely the opposite, and sometimes I am working. intention. over. This desire to be more intentional was a pivotal change in my life - and I'm still feeling the waves of it. In fact, these waves are becoming larger.
Again, I chose this word because I knew it was something I "needed" to grow in. Anyone who has prayed with me before knows that I can pray, and I might even be able to pray well. But that's outloud and with people. I mean, you could argue that I can simply speak well. Some people have even complimented for being a "prayer warrior" and I wanted to laugh in their face, "Do you know how terrible I am at this when I'm alone?"
Looking back at my choice for my word for 2017, I feel like I thought it was the holy choice. If I'm being intentional like I decided in 2016, then I should have a booming prayer life, right? If I love Jesus the way that I say I do, this should become easy and natural and immediate, right? Maybe. But maybe not. I'm learning now that maybe a life of devotion and prayer doesn't always look the same. In fact, I know it doesn't. So, I think now that my 2017 choice was misguided and setting me up for disappointment. That viewpoint of what an "intentional life of prayer" was supposed to look like set me up to fail. It doesn't have to look the way I thought it did.
My 2018 word: Embrace
(Other potential words I thought of were wrestle and seek.)
I settled on embrace because it simply felt like what I needed to do in this season. Embrace myself. Embrace my failures. Embrace my strengths. Embrace my questions and my certainties. Embrace who I am by being myself, and being authentic in that.
At the end of 2017 I was beginning to feel like this is something I wasn't doing. I wasn't being myself. I might not even know myself. What do I think? What do I feel? This desire to "embrace myself" didn't come from a place of insecurity but of curiosity. And I guess a little bit of dissatisfaction.
Step one of embracing myself has meant learning about myself and discovering who I am. So far, that's all this year has been. Discovering a piece of me, trying to embrace it. Discovering a piece of me, trying to embrace it. It feels painstakingly slow, like I'm making no progress at all. However, I know that when I look back on this year, I'll see the growth.
So, I'll take tiny step by tiny step. I'll never "arrive", which as a very goal-oriented person is both annoying and relieving.
A few days after choosing the word "embrace" for the year, I discovered my most helpful tool towards embracing myself: the enneagram.
I won't get into the enneagram today, but it's essentially a personality test - and so much more. It's a tool for growth, for self-discovery, for wholeness, for not getting stuck in your ego. I'll rant about it sometime soon, but for now I'll leave it at that. It's helping me discover myself. (Find more about the enneagram here. I'll be talking about it soon.)
And so, this is what I'm working on: embracing myself and my thoughts and my feelings, and learning to embody that in how I present myself to the world around me. Being myself. And friends, it's pretty scary. I'm working through the fear of it now.
What if I'm myself and people don't like who I am anymore?
What if I'm myself and people don't love me?
What if I'm myself and I'm no longer who I thought I was?
I'm learning that integrating, becoming healthy, and being your authentic self don't mean that you'll be loved by the world. It doesn't mean that everyone will think you're right. We're all different and we all have different ways of approaching faith, conflict, and just life in general. What's right for one might not be right for another, and that's okay. We can be okay with difference.