Monday, January 15, 2018

Close. A Synonym of Leaning In. And My Word of the Year.

by Heidi Ashe

There’s a buzz around the internet this time of year about choosing a word.  A word for the year.  It overwhelms me in a way.  A word for the whole year.  How do I know what this year is going to hold?  How can I possibly pick one word to describe something that hasn’t happened yet?  It’s like picking out my wedding dishes all over again.

Picture 22 year old me walking through Belk beside my fiancĂ© with the scanner gun, bawling my eyes out because, “How do you choose something you’re going to eat on every single day for the rest of your life?!”  Dear heavens.  I was a mess.  Imagine how liberated I felt just 9 short years later when I packed those dishes up, dropped them off at Goodwill, then went and picked out brand new ones.  FREEDOM!  {It’s a wonder he married me, y’all.}

Back to the word, I might as well be right back in that aisle looking for dishes that were gonna change my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I tried it once, because I love a bandwagon.  My word was REST.  We had just finished building our house, had been moved in less than a month and it really felt like the thing we needed most.  REST.  Ahhh.

A few weeks after picking that word, we signed my son up for a travel baseball team. It was almost like God laughed at me.  I remember about halfway through the season (which lasts from January to November in case you didn’t know) looking over at my husband as we drove home from a tournament late one Sunday evening and him saying, “What did you say that word was for this year?  Rest.  Yeah, you nailed that one!”  {It’s a wonder I married him, y’all.}

When a friend mentioned picking a word to me today, I almost laughed at her.  Then I listened.  Her word was good.  It wasn’t just a word either, it was a plan of intention for the year ahead.  She even prefaced it with, “I don’t do resolutions.” {Which is TOTALLY my jam! Resolutions just seem like something to disappoint myself with sooner or later. More often sooner rather than later.} But a plan of intention for the year.  Hmmm.  I liked the sound of that.  The thought of picking a word and then being intentional about seeking that word throughout the year, being purposeful in choosing that action every time I could throughout the year.  I was intrigued.

I’m a words girl, so immediately I began thinking of some: PRESENCE, PEACE, BREATHE, HOLD, BE, OPEN, PURPOSEFUL….I really do love words.  Then I began to pray (really need to work on that being my FIRST inclination) Lord, what would you have me focus on this year?  What would you have me sit in and wrestle with?

Over the next few days it came to me in different ways.  A magazine article I glanced at while waiting on one of my kids.  A word in a podcast I was listening to as I washed dishes.  A piece of the pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning.  CLOSE.  Not the opposite of open, but a synonym of leaning in.  That’s what I want to put my intention on this year, drawing close to the Word of God.  Closer to Him.

James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” That’s what I want.  To draw near, closer, to Him.  To breathe Him in a bit better this year. To listen closely to my family and friends, especially in the big moments, but also in the mundane (and y’all, there can be quite a bit of mundane in the world of a nine year old girl!), but I want to be close to every bit of it.

I pray wherever your year takes you, it first takes you close to Jesus.  This sweet old hymn, sums it up:

Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea.
Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

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