A couple of friends of mine choose a “word of the year” every January. This word is a theme they follow throughout the year, illuminating truth, guiding decisions, and helping them stay focused. I thought that was nice. And that’s about all the thought I gave it. I didn’t think it would make that much difference in the daily grind.
Until this year. As early as last December, I could not shake the sense that I needed to choose a word for 2017. The vague sense became more like an urge in early January. Although the idea seemed to hang on, I didn’t “try on” different words, or even actively seek one out. It came from the inside, more like a knowing than an act of obedience. Even at this stage, however, I didn’t have the exact word. I only understood the concept of it.
Until I opened the mail one day. The mail carrier had placed the letters on top of a magazine and folded it around them. I pulled the bundle out of the mailbox and flipped through the bills and such while I walked up the driveway to the house. As I stepped up onto the porch, I stopped. Holding the letters in one hand, I now saw the cover of the magazine as I held it in the other.
One word stared up at me. That’s all. The magazine was the Ouachita Circle and goes to alumni of Ouachita Baptist University. For this issue, the editors chose to use just one word as the focus. I knew as soon as I saw it that this was the word for my year.
You see, I have been living in a fog for the last five years. After my cancer treatments ended, I anticipated life returning to normal. I thought I would be motivated by the same things, enjoy the same things, and do the same things as before my diagnosis. After all, I had been happy and doing things that mattered. But I discovered I could not. Nothing seemed to hold the same interest. I felt almost apathetic about many of the things with which I had previously filled my life.
New things grabbed my focus. One of my sons experienced a major life crisis. Just after we got through the worst of the emotional fall-out, my other son became engaged, the wedding plans unfolded, and he got married. A few months after the wedding, my mother entered the hospital for something that seemed minor. But at the age of 85, her body could not cope and she began a downward health spiral. As her power of attorney, I needed to move her from her home three hours away to a place near me. That 12-month span was swallowed up in caring for her until her death. And then we built a house–for a year. Acting as our own contractors and building in a location five hours away created time and logistics issues. Before I knew it, years of my life had passed during which I did not do anything I set out to do. Life just seemed to happen and I reacted.
As I pondered this revelation, and wondered what to do about it, I discovered that I was really only interested in a few things: relationships– with other people and with God, health, and creative pursuits.
The thing that has been the most difficult to do is engage in creative pursuits. I didn’t understand this until I realized it is the area in which God has a great purpose for the rest of my life. So of course, it is the area in which I encounter the most resistance in terms of interruptions and focus.
Then along came that magazine.
This is the right time for intentionality in my life. God has engineered my circumstances in such a way that I have some new opportunities to both write and speak.
Will you join me in being intentional about your writing, in your relationships, and about keeping your body healthy enough to do what God has called you to do?