I am not a fan of New Years resolutions. Do I think people are wrong for making them? No. I just think they don’t work for me. What I do like is choosing a word.
Partly because a word seems more manageable and less intimidating than a list of things I resolve to do from this day forward. Partly because in a world of more and better, I like to claim this one thing as my defiant act of simplicity. I can juggle plates with the best of them, but in this one thing my heart just needs something simple.
Also, it’s easier to remember.
For 2021 my focus was on the word “breathe,” and I still find it shocking how many times I repeated that to myself over the past year. This was the year of releasing my first book, moving towards healing with the guidance of a counselor, refusing to look away from the suffering of those around the world, and reminding myself over and over again to let God be God and me be me.
So as I began praying for my direction for 2022, I honestly didn’t even know what I wanted. The past year has been hard and it hurt and it was also wonderful and miraculous and hopeful…and I can’t quite reconcile it all.
What I did know is that one word kept popping up more distinctly: and.
“It’s not even a real word,” I thought. Then I got curious. What if there’s more here than meets the eye? So, naturally, I googled it. Merriam Webster had this to say:
used as a function word to indicate connection
used to describe an action that is repeated or that occurs for a long time
This three letter word is, in fact, meaningful. It’s a word that tells of connection and of something that just keeps going.
This is what I want for the next year.
To find the connection between things. To better hold the both/and of this earthly life in Christ. I want to live life in all its conflicting wonder, not turning my face away from what is not yet redeemed and hoping entirely in the Redeemer. I want to stop feeling guilty for having hard days and stop feeling like I have to hold my breath when the days are smooth. I want to live as if I am free, because I am, and accept the limitations of being a human, because I am that too. I want to believe there is a connection between my hurt and God’s healing, my questions and God’s clarity, my weakness and God’s strength.
To keep going. To let this word be the testament of a heart that keeps moving towards Christ, that keeps leaning in when I want to run away, that repeatedly lays all of me before the Lord and trusts that the good God will do good things.
This may seem more difficult than a small list of resolutions, and maybe it is. Even so, I believe it will change me. I believe it will be worth it. I also believe it is critical to my life right now, and isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Making resolutions, declaring new directions, choosing what we will work towards for the sake of transforming our life for the better?
This word is also woven through the Scriptures. Not in the overarching truth of the Gospel - there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all… (Ephesians 4:5-6).
Yet in the course of life, we see it again and again.
God gives us strength, and this is most clearly displayed in our weakness. He doesn’t necessarily change the weakness, His strength comes alongside it. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
He adopts us as sons and daughters, telling us that even as we live here on earth this is not our true home. And so, for now, we live in both places: the Kingdom of God and the world, . (Galatians 4:4-7; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
He calls us to count our trials as joy for what they produce in us. He doesn’t say He will remove the trial so that we can have joy. They can coexist, but only in Christ. (James 1:2-4)
He tells of the table prepared in the midst of our enemies, and then blesses us with an invitation. Our enemies are still here, yet we feast with the Almighty God. (Psalm 23)
Maybe you find yourself whispering, “I want this too." If so, please here me when I say I believe this is possible for us. In Christ. Only in Christ can we hold the fragility of life and the unwavering hope of eternity
As the song goes, "In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song."
May He be so for you, too.