I’ve never subscribed to this “word of the year” business. I mean no offense to anyone who does. I know this works for a lot of people, but see; I just don’t work that way. I don’t process that way. I love goals and I love words. How can I possibly sit down at the beginning of a year and choose just one word above all others, to encapsulate all goals, that I’ll have to stick to all year. I’m only going to change it next week when I think of a better word. But today, on February 29th (there has to be some hidden meaning in that), I’ve decided on a word for 2016. More accurately, it decided on me.
The word that chose me for 2016 is focus… or maybe it should be presence (because how can anyone seriously pick ONE word!?)… but it’s focus, and it came at me tenderly, like a heat-seeking missile, this morning.
I know that making New Year’s resolutions on the quadrennial last day of February is definitely “a day late,” and maybe not the best way to win the year, but let’s hope it’s not actually “a dollar short” when all is said and done.
I thought I had focus; on goals, on plans – on a lot of things. But I have been distracted, or at best focused on too many things. At worst, focused on the wrong things.
I’ve been blessed to be married to Joel for almost twelve years now. The unwavering commitment to love and to see it through has been a beautiful comfort and joy. We are a team; and the most terrifying feeling I’ve known is that of looking back and wondering how we could ever have stopped functioning that way.
This is where the reality gets personal and painful. I hope you’ll take it for whatever it means to you. Just hang in there – it’s a happy ending.
For years, we poured into each other; built each other up and put each other first. But then, and for years again, life was busy and demanding. There is always much work to be done, and my husband is a hard worker. His hard work gives him purpose, and it’s an amazing quality in a human being. It also means that for years, I’ve worked on pushing away my feelings – my need for my husband’s presence – in the name of being that good wife that allows him to spread his wings.
But if I’m being honest? I did it every bit as much out of self-defense.
I’m not going to be the needy wife. I can be self-sufficient. I can do it all. I can be and find all that I need without putting it on my husband to be everything for me. I can stop longing for his presence, so that it won’t hurt so much when he’s not here.
I didn’t just lose focus on what was right in front of me. I got scared and pushed away my focus on all the best things in my life.
When two 20-year-olds get married and don’t look back, don’t ever once question the decision to commit for life, don’t start drifting away even a little bit until sometime around thirty; I’d say those people know they have a treasure. I’m no statistician, but I’d also say that’s beating some sort of odds.
I only regret the force of a collapsing brick wall of pain it took to bring to our attention that we’ve been taking for granted this indescribable gift; and even ignoring it – throwing it in the back of a closet and forgetting about it until one of us stubs a toe on it in search of something fun to do. (I am confident this is not an anomaly in the universe of marriage.)
I like to tell myself I’m good; that I’m improving every day, accomplishing things, getting it all under control little by little, meeting goals. I mean, I finally finished losing a TON of weight, so that’s something, right? I thought that was my biggest point of struggle, after all. But, without warning, the game changed – which has never been a game anyway.
Suddenly, but maybe not suddenly; I find myself lost, confused, scared, hurting, lonely, ashamed. My eyes are red and swollen, and I’m not sure which way is up anymore. I am flawed. I’ve lost focus on the things that are right in front of me, and in some misguided ways, I’m not entirely sure I want it back. Only…I do. That truth, and the fortunate timing of this emotional wreck on the eve and morning of the Bible study that would remind me of how God uses our struggles to effect major victories in life, add merciful hope to the ugly mix of emotional overwhelm.
It is an amazing God who, while I’m sick to my stomach and cannot work up an appetite for food at the moment (which is magnificently ironic), can still fill me with hope. One intentional step in the right direction at a time, He will use these struggles too, to create a new victory.
He didn’t promise that life would be easy, or that marriage – or family or friendship or work or waistlines, for that matter – would always be perfect. I think we can live with that, work with that; but a life without that hope and His peace would be unbearable.
So the word of the year for 2016 is hope.
Just kidding. It’s focus. And that gives me hope.