This month is a weird month for me.
This time last year I was finishing up the last of my Bradley birthing classes, rubbing cocoa butter on my stretch marks, and doing crazy amounts of walking and squatting as to attempt to induce labor.
My little girl is 11 months now, and we are a month away (obviously) from celebrating her first birthday.
Cue emotional sobbing about the swift passage of time.
Milestones such as this one that is about to occur are a chance to reflect on the year past. However, I will save my motherhood lessons until next month when my little Esther will actually be 12 months.
For today, I want to take a good long look at what I want this next year to hold (yes, I know people usually do this in January, but I’m different and slow, so deal with it).
For those who used to read my previous blog (The Art of Breath), and this post (yes, all five of you), you know that God usually gives me one word to focus on throughout the year. This word was usually given to me in September because, up until fairly recently, I was either a student or a teacher for whom the new school year was usually the best time for start fresh with a new focus. But somewhere between quitting my job and having a baby, the word “Journey” was my word for like a year and a half. This January, The Lord released me from that particular word, although not it’s lessons, and gave me a new one.
That word is Grace.
Grace is one of those words that has a very different meaning depending on who you ask. A dancer might say it is elegance with which movement is executed. A young boy might tell you it’s the short prayer he says with head bowed and eyes closed before he is allowed to dig in. A landlord might think of the period in which she allows for her renters to get away with being late on their payments when the term “grace” is used.
But my word of “Grace” for this year of 2018 refers to the unmerited favor of God, and then my responsibility to extend forgiveness to others based upon my state of such gracious love. Grace, for me, encompasses so much–forgiveness, freely giving without expectation, long-suffering, forbearance, seeing God’s blessing in and among trials, and choosing to bless others when it’s hard.
This word might sound precious and sweet, and oh, it is! But it is also a hard word.
There are some people I need to show grace to (forgive), people who really do not deserve it, or even know that they have hurt me or continue to do so.
There are some situations I have to walk though gracefully, choosing to experience God’s blessing, even though it seems like there is no good that can come from such circumstances.
There is gracious service to give, and the call to not expect anything back in return– not even a “thank you”.
There is the task of letting go of my own ambitions goals and expectations for myself and to receive grace in each disappointing let down that comes this year.
I began this post by writing that I want to take a good long look at what I want this next year to hold. This is not exactly true. Because in all honesty, I do not want to do these things that grace requires. They are not exactly fun to work on and sometimes seem to be bitter pills to swallow in the name of no immediate recognition. And when I’m merely thinking in terms of this world, rather than eternity, I really just want to toss this new word out the window and pick a word that fits with what the selfish person inside me really wants 2018 to hold.
And then I am reminded of hose verses that Shane & Shane put to my current favorite song.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “…’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
And I know that it is the weakness in me that cringes at this grace-word, and all it means for me. Not just for this year, but also for the lessons I will learn and carry with me into the next year, and years to come.
And I am reminded too, of the whole point of each “one word” for the year. It is not so I can focus myself on what I would like the coming year to hold. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. The whole point of each one word is to submit to what God wants to do with me and in me for this period of time.
But it is not I who have to worry about producing enough grace to accomplish all of these things–the forgiving, the serving, the walking through trials, the patience, the loving till it hurts. No.
His Word says that it is His grace that is sufficient for me. His mercies are fresh every morning, new and tailored for the particular day, which I am always ill equipped and ill prepared for. His power is perfected in my weakness because it makes me lean on Him fully, rather than relying on myself.
And so I start this February out–because, yes, I’m a little late on the New Years Resolutions, and also because this is not so much a resolution as an acknowledgment of God’s work–with this beautiful, hard, complex, and scary word. A grace-filled word. A word chalk-full of potential and freedom and life. I start this season–because I don’t really know if God will release me from it after a neat little calendar year–with this word:
His one word is sufficient for me.