One Word 2014 : Thrive.

I chose Faithfulness as my One Word for 2013. It’s from a favorite hymn of mother’s, the last one she sang to me before she died and the one we sang at her funeral. I had it inscribed as a tattoo on my wrist on the anniversary of her death last January.

The lyrics to the chorus go, “Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

But honestly, I think I got the Faithfulness thing backwards in 2013. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to achieve an elusive measure of faithfulness that would make me feel satisfied, confident and whole. And at the same time, I was trying to hide from the hard parts of faithfulness : the showing up and being present in my life every day, the vulnerability of it, the steady work that it takes – whether or not there’s an end or an accolade in sight. Yet when I sat down to make a list of everything that marked this year – books I read, music and movies I loved, places I went, people I met, friendships that flourished, words I wrote, tasks I accomplished – I was astonished by how full my life was.

For the record, this is what Faithfulness looked like in 2013 :

Books :
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman
Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt
- A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
– A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
– The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
– When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
– Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
– Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
– Quiet by Susan Cain
– The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
– The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
– Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott
– Rereads: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series & The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneggar, Homecoming by Bernard Schlink

People I Connected With (online, some face-to-face) : 

Natalie Trust
Tamara Barrick Rice
Cara Strickland
Abi Bechtel
Suzannah Paul
Dianna Anderson
Dani Kelley
Benjamin Moberg
Micah Murray

Places I Went :
– The Dominican Republic : service project
– Eagle River, Wisc. : camping with the hubs
– Bloomington, Ind. : visiting friends from my study abroad trip
– Norwalk, Ohio : my first-ever speaking gig!
– Nashville, Tenn. : vacation with my hubs
– Fargo, N.D. : Thanksgiving with my sis in-law & niecey

Words I Wrote (most popular posts) :
Where Have All the Millennials Gone? Entitlement in the Economy & the Church
RELEVANT : Angelina Jolie and Every Woman’s Choice
I Am Done With Being Quiet
When It’s the Worst Thanksgiving Ever
When the Story Isn’t Mine to Tell
It is Good : An Ode to My Body
When I Say I Wouldn’t Trade It
On Mourning Mother’s Day

Personal Accomplishments :
got a tattoo
– paid off my credit card
– finally worked out a reasonable payment plan with Sallie Mae
– hubs & I both received raises AND bonuses from work
– finished & submitted a first draft of my book proposal + two sample chapters (update on this coming soon)
got my first-ever speaking gig

BUT SERIOUSLY. Why had I been so hard on myself about living up to a measure of faithfulness when all of this good stuff was already happening? (Why is this always the question I’m asking myself?)

I’m reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly right now, and in her chapter “Vulnerability Armory” she talks about our habits of deflecting vulnerability. As I was reading, I realized that “foreboding joy” is a big shield for me : living in a constant state of anxiety over the worst case scenario. I use it in an effort to prepare for and/or shield myself from pain, but it has kept me from fully living into joy. It leaves me desperate and insecure, unable to see the blessings in my midst and therefore totally ungrateful for them.

This year taught me that every time I think faithfulness is about me and my ability to measure up or follow through, it is in fact, about God’s faithfulness – His radical, loving, everlasting and totally unconditional faithfulness to us. Just as the hymn goes.

I decided that this year I want to put down that shield of foreboding joy. I want to stop letting anxiety and desperation control me. I want to notice the blessings in my midst. I want to act from a place of abundance and enough-ness, instead of scarcity.

And so, the word that I’m choosing for 2014 is THRIVE.

It’s not a list of goals to accomplish or taking the year by storm. It’s not behavior modification with a bunch of new habits. It’s not about measuring up or fitting a standard. It’s about being vulnerable enough to feel joy and practice gratitude.

Thriving is about living into His faithfulness to me.