I have been thinking, praying, and hoping to come up with my “one word” for 2016 for several days now. And, even though I actually did start thinking about it before January 1 this year, it wasn’t until yesterday that something finally came to me. So, in typical Lindsey fashion, here is the post that most people would publish on the first day of the year, on January 4th.
I am frequently frustrated that spiritual change doesn’t come the way I wish that it did or the way that I expect it to, even though I’ve been a Christian for most of my life. I still expect the birth of spiritual things in me to happen the way birth happens in the movies even though I know that birth takes time. That it’s slow and subtle and that most of the work is done in the waiting, in the holding on and leaning into the ache. That only at the end of birth, while that newborn baby nurses for the first time, do we look back and say “Yes, I must have been in labor then.”
This way of thinking has been unlike what I have previously termed “Spiritual Growth,” for I am not setting out with a plan or a goal or a list of character qualities to grow in myself. No, this spiritual birth I am describing is a lot more about God than it is about us and the kind of people we are. It is in the gazing long and hard and in community at the God of the Bible that we find ourselves changed, that we see spiritual birth in our lives and celebrate the births in the lives of others.
And it is for this reason that I waited and I let my word for the year come on its own, that I am through calculating and orchestrating spiritual growth, that I am ready to lean in to the waiting, to allow the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and the community of faith to work lasting, meaningful change in my heart, rather than attempting to cook something up with good words or nice thoughts or even noble goals for character improvement. I have been where those things lead me. And it was self-centered striving, heartbreaking disappointment, and ugly pride.
I have heard it said that the spiritual disciplines put us in the way of God’s grace—that as we read the Word, pray, confess sin, and spend time with the Lord and with one another, we open ourselves up to the life changing work of the Holy Spirit. To the grace that changes our hearts.
And this is why, my friends, I am excited about my one word for this year. Because it really has been months and months in the coming. That as I held this word in my heart, as I wrote it down over and over again, as I spelled it out in refrigerator magnets, I have looked back on my life and said, “Yes, I must have been in labor then.”
But birth is only the beginning, isn’t it? I am eager to see the way the Lord makes this word a part of me in the year to come, the way he who began a good work in me will keep on working.
My #oneword for 2016?