Just before 2013 dawned, I heard about a program called OneWord365. Instead of creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions, program participants are encouraged to spend time reflecting on one word over the course of a year. I selected the word grace as my 2013 OneWord. It was bumpy, it was tough, it was crazy… But I learned a lot and had an awesome experience.
For 2014, God hit me in the face with the word discovery. I knew I would be undergoing many changes, such as spending three months in Chiang Mai, Thailand; graduating from college; moving, looking for jobs, and looking for a church/community. There were also many new changes I was not expecting: a new, wonderful, amazing boyfriend (my first); working out my relationships with close friends (including a decision to not move in with them); feeling my heart torn between three cities and three families; finding a friend/mentor in the sweet girl who had my job before I did; starting a new ministry opportunity through her and her husband; and having a new “re-calling” to overseas missions. Much of 2014 is not what I expected. I often feel tossed by the wind, unable to grab hold of anything firm and stable.
But I forget that God is my solid rock. Oh, how I forget that so easily! Maybe 2014 is a transitional year. Maybe it’s supposed to feel out of control… And not a good out-of-control, either, but often a frustrating, disappointing out-of-control. Often, I feel alone. I feel that I have more on my to-do list than hours in a day. Yet, I also occasionally feel bored. I feel dissatisfied. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe God is reminding me that this is not my home. My home is an eternity with Him.
The word I’ve chosen to focus on throughout all the days of 2015 is LOVE.
I know, I know… It’s cliche. Everyone else has picked “love,” too. A couple nights before New Year’s Eve, I literally could not stop thinking about it. It was all I could to go to bed with “love” on the brain. It wasn’t emotional or sexual love, either. It was selfless love… Agape love…
1 Corinthians 13:13 says that faith, hope, and love are the three things that remain when all is said and done, but that love is the greatest of the three. John 3:16 states that the reason we have the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ reconciling us to God is because “God so loved the world…” He LOVED us. That’s why we’re here. We are called to LOVE others, because “by this everyone will know that [we] are [His] disciples” (John 13:35). The word “love” shows up in the NLT Bible 759 times, more times than faith (507) and hope (190) combined.
One reason I’ve chosen love is because it is difficult. People are sinful and selfish and annoying and rude and close-minded. It is difficult to love anyone! In addition, love is not a feeling, but a choice. I have been dating an amazing guy for six months. It has been awesome, difficult, and wonderful. But if I relied solely on my feelings for him, there would be times I would want to give up on this relationship. Feelings change. However, I am learning to rely on what I know to be true instead of what I feel. I know that this guy is after God’s heart. I know that he wants what is best. I know that he has a servant’s heart. I know that consistency is practically his middle name (it’s actually Stephen, but you get my point). I care deeply about him even when he forgets important things or even when we struggle with boundaries because I have chosen to care about him. Love is not a feeling, but a choice. It hopes and perseveres and sees potential. And the cool thing is that he does the same for me.
So, welcome to 2015. I know it will be another year of transitions and changes and moves. I know it will be another crazy year. Too crazy for words. But I know that God is my solid rock on which I find my footing, and I know that I will be intentional about choosing love this year and learning how to love well, as Christ loves the church.