Monday, February 13, 2017

2017 - A Year of Purpose

Seriously?!  Where did January go?  This right here is exactly why I needed my word of the year to be PURPOSE.

Long story short, I choose one word each year.  Lots of thought and prayer goes into my decision.  And then I try to let that word guide my year.  I never know how it's going to play out; there are always interesting surprises.

My word for 2017 is purpose.

It can be tough to explain why I choose the word I do.  Sometimes it's totally clear.  Other times it's pretty ethereal.  Usually writing it out helps.  Let's see what happens this time.

People who know me, people who are close to me, know my life is never boring.  That's the nice way to put it.  My life is often quite complicated and difficult.  There are so many areas of my life that go nuts on a regular basis like a drop of water on a hot, greased skillet.

I often feel like I'm dancing on a moving floor.  Things are rarely predictable.  Try as I might, I rarely feel like I have my footing.  Like I'm running my own life.

But it's been worse lately.  My life has definitely been running me.  A lot!  Flinging me around like a dog with a rag doll in its teeth.  And I feel it.

I've spent way too much time lately feeling in tatters.  Like my dress is shredded, I'm missing a shoe, and one of my eyes is hanging loosely from the socket.  (Still a rag doll metaphor.  Not blood and gore.)

I'm running around putting out fires.  I'm doing this or that because I HAVE to.  I'm the flotsam and jetsam on the ocean, flung wherever the waves take me.

It's not a happy way to live.  It's not peaceful at all.  And peace is always my main goal for my life.

So as I pondered my word, my heart went this direction.  Just as a feeling.  A sense of what I wanted.  But without the words.  And then the word came.  Purpose.  I need purpose.

It's not that I need purpose in my life, overall.  I have that.  I have oodles of that.

I need purpose in the moments.  In the days.  In the plans.  In the relationships.  In the decisions of my life.

I need to steer my life.

We're two weeks into February.  I wanted to write this on January first.  Guess how well I'm doing so far.

I do have moments.  I've chosen to dedicate my runs (or hikes or whatever) to people in my life.  Once in a while, someone will be on my mind and in my heart.  So I take them with me when I run.  Not always, but frequently.  When the run gets hard, I remember whom I'm running for and why.  Usually gratitude floods over me in that moment.  How blessed I am that I can run!

And there've been other moments.  Moments I remember to stop.  Think.  Choose.

But not nearly enough.

Today was kind of an over-the-top kind of day.  I was slammed on all sides.  Stress.  Stress.  A little more stress.  Some anxiety.  And how about some STRESS?  Some irrational demands.  Some innocent demands hitting on top of everything else.  Text.  Text.  Text.  Phone call.  Phone call.  Phone call.  Request.  Request.  Request.  All day long.  And some gut-wrenching struggles for people I love, people I need to take care of.

I was not in control for much of the day.  And then I was.  And it was better.

And tomorrow it will start all over again.

Lots of opportunities for growth.  Lots of chances to find my purpose.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Year of Run

What an interesting year 2016 was.  So many changes in my life.  So many tough things, some of which got better, others which got worse.

But a very important thing happened in 2016.  Something I never expected.  Something that kind of sneaked up on me.  Something that's changed me for the rest of my life.

In 2016, I became a runner.

In a nutshell, I'd been unhealthy for years.  All kinds of medical struggles.  They weren't dangerous, just life-inhibiting.  In 2014 some things changed in my life which improved my physical and mental health.  More changes happened in 2015, which enabled me to begin walking.  Really walking.  For miles and miles and miles.  With zero intention of running.  Zero desire to run.

Until my third 5k.  I'd done my first one entirely walking, except those last 20 yards; gotta push across the finish line, right?  My second one, I added just a little running here and there.  Basically just enough to beat my time from my first one.  By the time I got to my third one, I knew I'd have to run a significant amount to improve my time.  This was all in the summer and fall of 2015.

I think I ran about a third of that last one - run until you can't breathe, walk until your heart stops pounding to the point you think it will explode, repeat.  It was incredibly difficult.  I couldn't walk the few blocks home, because I'd injured myself by pushing so hard.  And I remember thinking in that moment, "I want to run!"

It took several months of resting a little, going back to it too soon, injuring myself again before I really took healing myself seriously.

At the end of 2015, a year of HEALing, it was time to choose a new word.  I don't do New Year's resolutions.  I choose one word.  One word to guide my year.  Sometimes it's a lot of work to choose my word.  I have so many ideas run through my head.  Several of them would fit.  God and I have to talk it over for a while before I settle on one.

Last year wasn't like that.  I immediately knew what I wanted.  I wanted RUN.  I wanted to run!  But I fought it.  It seemed like such a narrow focus.  How could it possibly govern my year?  How could it affect my spiritual life?  How could I use it to govern my relationships?  How shallow a word was that to choose?!

But when I took it to God, He said it was perfect!  I still didn't know how it would play out, but I trusted it would.

It did.

I ran.

I am a runner.

Let me say that again - I AM A RUNNER!



I don't run fast or far, but I run.  And I love it!  I never, ever thought about running before.  In fact, I mocked my friends who ran.  Why would I torture myself like that?  But then I did it.

Running makes me feel powerful.  Running makes me feel cleansed.  Running makes me feel free.  Running makes me feel alive!  Running is and does so many things.

In years past, when I've reviewed my year through the eyes of that One Word, I've looked at the ways it had an impact on all those individual areas of my life.  When I chose RUN as my word, I expected to look back and see how I let it inspire me to RUN to Jesus or RUN to or from this or that.  But it didn't.  And I've learned something.

I've learned that God doesn't compartmentalize.  I do.  I'm the one who sees my physical health, emotional health, financial health, relational health, mental health, spiritual health, etc. separately.  God sees me.

I've learned that any progress in a positive direction is spiritual progress.  Because everything is spiritual.  I am a spiritual being, so my entire life experience is spiritual.

Progress in a positive direction makes me more whole.  Running makes me more whole.  God knew that.  And He knew that it was good.