2013 – Survive
2014 – Thrive
2015 – Abide
2016 – Choose Joy
These were my words from the last five years.
Some of them I chose (like, choose joy), others were chosen for me (survive). I think back to the challenges of 2012 and 2013 – moving from Tennessee to California, jobs falling through, staying in 5 different places in 7 months with a toddler, getting pregnant in the midst of the shuffle, discovering it was twins, tenuous relationships, having 3 children under 3. As we gratefully placed one toe over the line into relief, I asked Reggie what he thought the theme of those years were.
It literally took everything in us to just fight for survival – for our lives, our family, our sanity, our faith.
Then came 2014. At some point during the year, we looked back and realized that we were no longer in survival mode. We could breathe. We were laughing more than crying. We.had.our.own.place!!! We were thriving – at work, in ministry, in our family, with relationships. Ironically, there was an ivy that I’d had for 16 years. Over the years, this plant seemed to mirror my spiritual and mental state. That year we were in survival mode, the year we felt as though we were dying. It was dying.
Miraculously, after months of little nurturing, no water, little sun, we decided to see what would happen if we placed it in the window. Gave it sun. Watered it.
And during the time it began to thrive, we thrived.
As 2014 began to morph into 2015, I remember looking at that plant. Once we abandoned survival mode, we decided to take efforts to tend to it, and provide what it needed. It grew – it thrived. Each vine thrived as it was connected to the main source. I was reminded of John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” There, my word for 2015 was birthed.
The only way we would continue to thrive, would be by learning to abide.
Then. 2016. On December 25, 2015, I decided that my word for 2016 would be “choose joy”. We had learned to survive, experienced a season of thriving and were learning to abide, but I wanted to learn how to do this without anxiety and fear. I wanted to trust, to be at peace, to understand what it meant to “choose joy”. By January 2, I was done with choosing joy. It seemed as though everything that came at me that week – ER visit for leg pains, busted transmission in our fairly new van, husband with an allergic reaction – was hell bent on bringing out the opposite. But, we made it. I faltered a lot. Failed miserably. But, as we approach the end of the this year, I am understanding better how to take practical steps towards applying that biblical truth – by giving thanks – often.
So, here we are. The end of 2016. I’ve decided that my word for next year will be “Pursue”. It’s a loaded phrase and I’m still fleshing out what that will mean for me. But, if history serves as any type of indicator…