I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Never have. I think the thing I don’t like the most about them is that it makes people focus on things they don’t like about themselves, like their weight. Never mind that only 8% percent of those who make resolutions actually achieve them. I’m the type of person who, when I commit to something, I do it. For instance, I go to the gym regularly and have for 20+ years. I know that for about five weeks into the new year, there will be many new faces at the gym — all with the new year’s resolutions of losing weight or getting more fit. However, by the middle of February, it’s like bam, they’re all gone. What is it that makes some of us stick to our commitments and others lose their drive?
Now, it’s nine days into the new year. You’ve probably heard about choosing “one word” to focus on throughout the year, rather than a resolution that often fades. Since I’m a word girl, this is my thing. There is actually a website around this concept. (You can find it at myoneword.org.) What’s funny is I didn’t even know this was a “thing” when I decided to focus on a word last year. For 2014, I chose the word ‘intentional.’ My goal was to do things and make choices that revolved around being more intentional: with God, my family, my friends, my time. I was more intentional about my daily quiet times with God, more intentional about finding ways to bless others. Even in my work, intentional was my focus.
In addition to working as a marketing/PR director for a nonprofit, I worked hard for 5.5 years building my own direct sales business with Uppercase Living. I loved it. I became a top seller, being named to the top 10 in sales in the entire company three years in a row, earning trips and lots of recognition, building a team, and growing a customer list of over 4,000. And I was busy. One of the main ways I sold my product was through home parties. I’m an extrovert, so I loved meeting so many people I would’ve never known otherwise. It was awesome. But what I realized was that as I was spending time with other people’s friends and family, I was missing mine. I missed a lot of my kids’ sports and school events. One day just over a year ago, as I was walking out the door for yet another party, my then 12-year-old son gave me a big hug and said, “Mom, I wish you didn’t have to go.” I got in my car and cried. Truth was, I didn’t have to go. It was my choice. And this soon-to-be teenager wanted to hang with his mom. Knowing I won’t have him around full time in a few short years, I made the hard decision to be more intentional with whom I spent my time. I stopped doing home parties, which in the direct seller world basically crushes your business. I no longer saw my name at the top of any sales lists, but I was choosing to be more intentional in my roles as a wife and mom for this season. (Now please hear me, my direct sales friends and countless others whom I bow down to as you juggle full-time jobs with being parents, running kids to activities, etc. I am not, for one moment, saying focusing on your career is wrong. I will never regret my time doing the things I have. I am your cheerleader and will continue to cheer you on! I just knew in this season, at this time, I needed to prioritize what I was doing.)
One of my best ‘intentional’ choices was to ask four of my girlfriends to go on a girls’ weekend to Palm Springs. The crazy part was that, despite our often chaotic schedules as moms, the same dates were open for all of us for five days in the sun. Do you have those friends who, no matter how long you go without seeing each other, you just pick right up where you left off? These are my girls. I pray with these girls, shed tears with these girls, support these girls and laugh — a lot — with these girls. Another highlight was my idea to be a “hometown tourist” with my kids for the entire month of August. Minus a couple days, we intentionally experienced someplace new every day, as if we were visiting our city as tourists. There were many, many ‘intentional’ experiences like that for me throughout the year. In serious matters, I spent a lot of time wrestling with God on where he wanted me. In fun, I was able to spend a weekend with my high school bestie in Nashville, a weekend with my Ya Ya Sisters laughing so hard our stomachs ached (or was that from our workout?), more time with my awesome hubby, who supports me no matter what I do. And yes, I think I made it to almost every hockey and soccer game.
As I was praying about my one word for 2015, the word that sprang to my mind was ‘uncomfortable.’ Yikes. Really, God? I’m very uncomfortable being uncomfortable. My type-A personality only allows me so much out of my control. But I feel this word is Spirit led, and so I will follow into the unknown. Take me out of my comfort zone, Lord. I guess this blog is the first step in that direction. As much as I’m an extrovert, I’m also a pretty private person. What you see is always what you get with me, but it takes me awhile to “trust” others with my deep inner soul, if you know what I mean. So me, sitting here spewing some of my thoughts not knowing if they will resonate with you, my dear reader, is a little uncomfortable. But I don’t think God’s best work is done when we’re comfortable. It’s when we’re uncomfortable that He can really grow us, change us and work through us.
I’m reading a book by Richard and Renee Stearns called He Walks Among Us. In one of the chapters that I just read, they tell a story of a man named Juan. After coming to the U.S. from El Salvador as a child, he drifted into a gang that offered him everything he needed, minus God: family, friends, acceptance, love and a sense of belonging.
“But Juan had traded his soul for all that. He got involved with crime and violence, saw his friend shot, and ended up in jail. After his release, he found help in an unlikely place. He got a job at a restaurant, and the manager treated Juan with respect, trusted him, and gave him a chance. And that was what Juan needed to get his life back on track. He got back into school, earned his degree, and was then offered a position with a nonprofit. The job? Going back into the gang neighborhood as a counselor to help rescue kids from that lifestyle — and Juan was terrified. ‘Fear sometimes stops good people from doing the right thing,’ Juan said. But Juan did the right thing and spent the next few years counseling kids and speaking in high schools.” The chapter ends, “That’s one reason why, when we follow Jesus, He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him into the broken and ragged places in our world. He asks us to join the rescue mission. ‘Sometimes,’ Juan said, ‘it takes being uncomfortable.’ Are you too comfortable?”
Yikes. Yes, I’m comfortable — in my sweet suburban house, with my loving husband, two kids, two cars and a dog. (Ok, for my friends reading this who know I wasn’t too comfortable about the dog thing, we can discuss that later.) Yes, the only thing I’m missing is a picket fence. But I think uncomfortable doesn’t have to be a negative word. I think it’s about growing, giving, experiencing and acting on things we may never have before. And I’m willing to search it out this year. How about you? What’s your word for 2015?