Did you choose a word to focus on during 2015? It’s become a popular practice, and I’ve enjoyed it the last couple years. It helps me to stay focused on one main thing. And we all know that focus, and its arch-nemesis random distraction, are the angel and the devil on our shoulders a lot of the time.
(If you’re interested in the one word idea, there are instructions and ideas here.)
My word for 2015 was rest. It wasn’t hard to do. Being sick for 11 of the 12 months made it nearly impossible for me not to rest. I may not have done so willingly – but I definitely pulled back and admitted – I need rest. I cannot do this. Whatever it is. It may have been a severe mercy, as Sheldon VanAuken has said, but I did learn about rest. I believe I am better at taking time out for sheer fun and for people. Sometimes, the two even mix.
For 2016, I’m choosing the word less. I know, strange word. Other people choose way more exciting, active words to focus on. Oh well. “Less” has been on my heart in various ways for a long time.
Less stuff. Less busyness. Less “I need.” Less frustration. Les anger at world events and less taking offense. Less me. Oh, so much less me.
(Or, if you’re a grammar snob as I am, sometimes the word is going to have to be fewer. But that’s beside the point…)
Can you think of anything you’d like less of?
A writer/speaker spends fifty to eighty percent of her time self-promoting. It’s part of the business. If I don’t get my name out there, make a constant push to get noticed, I don’t get paid. Simple math, really. Plus, I don’t get the soul-knowledge joy of knowing I’m doing the work I was created to do. It’s tough for an extreme introvert like me.
(When I took the Myers-Briggs in seminary, the prof asked me if I really thought going into ministry was a good idea with my off-the-chart introversion score. Well, it wasn’t my idea, it was God’s, so how was I to say? Plus, I was pregnant and had a ten-month-old. So all those questions about “Are you tired a lot?” Ya think?)
But you know what? Sometimes, so much focus on ‘me’ makes it crowded inside my head. Sometimes, I really hate having to prove to the world how awesome I am. I want to yell, “I’m pretty normal, really, and so are all of you. Can’t we just be that, together??”
Sometimes, I get sick of my own awesomeness.
I have a low threshold for self-promotion anyway. Worse, I start to believe my own press and think I deserve recognition, and then….then entitlement and envy and resentment start driving the car. They do not drive nicely.
So, less in 2016.
Here are the things I want less of:
We are cleaning the basement. I’m not even kidding this time. It is no idle threat. It’s either this or a controlled burn. We are also jettisoning other things we don’t need all over the house. There are people who do need and will use this stuff. OK, no one needs or will use a broken knick knack of a fairy my daughter made ten yeas ago. But the other stuff….it can go somewhere useful.
Working with refugee families has renewed my sense of urgency to rid my life of the excess so I can concentrate on giving more away. I want generosity to bookend my life. That’s hard when the “stuff” exerts its pull so convincingly.
If less stuff appeals to you, I highly recommend Jen Hatmaker’s book 7. It will help you in the letting go process. And, Jen will also kick your but when needed. Try some of these if you want hard core help. I might.
A presidential election year is going to make this a tough one. I try to walk the line between being unified and loving in the Christian community and calling out the jerks who give us a bad name. It’s a murky area. Who is to say exactly where the line is drawn? It’s not in my pay grade. So in 2016 I am choosing to find more and better ways of loving those with whom I disagree. While still disagreeing mightily when I feel God is not being honored.
How do you manage to do that?
Way more putting God and others in the limelight. Less, “Why not me?” It’s fun to encourage others and watch them shine. I want to do more of that. In fact, if you have something you want to shine out there, I’d love to hear about it. And tell others.
My key verses for this year:
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3.30)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6.33)
What do you want to choose for 2016? Less of something? More of something? What are your verses? I’d love to know. I’d love for us to encourage one another toward that goal.
I’m living less in 2016.
Here are some resources if you’re looking to set goals for your new year. Isn’t it a great feeling to start fresh? I love that God gives us that any time, not just at New Year’s, when we ask.
Goal setting activities (I love the practicality here and the ideas)
Other things for 2016:
I’ll be starting a series on who Jesus is. If we stripped away all that we have added to Jesus, what would we see? Whom would we encounter? How would we be changed? It’s going to be fun. And risky. Because Jesus is not the tame lion we have made him out to be. (Or, well, the white American male.) I’d love to hear about your encounters with Jesus.
Next week, I’ll have a surprise guest post!
What topics would you like to talk about?
And remember my promise begun late last year: Anyone who comments on a post, likes my Facebook page, follows me on Twitter, or shares a post is in the running for a surprise gift each month. (I promise, it will not be the broken-winged fairy.) But please tell me you’re from the email list if you do the twitter or facebook thing, or I won’t know!
Stay tuned. I’m looking forward to 2016 with you!