Last year, the word that chose me was “passion.” I remember where I was when I heard God say it, kneeling in the basement beside the washer and dryer, crouched over my laundry as if it would save me.
I didn’t want that word. The only definition that I could think of off the top of my head referred to Christ’s passion, His suffering and dying. I was tired, deeply so, and the idea of further suffering had me on my knees. I don’t remember if I asked God to take it away (I probably did), but I do remember that the word passion simply wouldn’t leave me. I was stuck with it.
So, I did what any word nerd would do. I looked it up. Dictionary, Hebrew, Greek. Old friends that usually hid treasures away in the folds of their definitions. Something for me to feel excited about, something for me to believe. Unfortunately, Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster’s definitions didn’t help me out much. I moved on to the Hebrew and Greek, but the original languages didn’t soothe me, either.
Discouraged, I wrote the word in the front of my journal. I looked at it every day, at least until my writing habit had me opening to the middle or later pages and ignoring the cover page altogether. I half-memorized a poem by Philip Schultz called “Pumpernickel” that referred to the “raw recipe of our passion”.
Looking back, I’m sad that I missed the more obvious invitation that passion had for me. I’m fairly passionate by nature; I believe that God was whispering something about myself that He saw, that He wanted to delight in further in 2012. I know that I missed unexpected adventures and the God-sized encounters that living in passion could have engendered.
And I know why I chickened out on “passion.” I chickened out because I allowed 2011 to drain me dry. Passion is wet and hot and full of life. Passion, the absolute opposite of what I was feeling. In my limited vision, I just couldn’t see how passion would be a guiding force for my year.
And I let it fade out of view.
My word for the year, my One Word for 2013, is space. It’s another word I didn’t particularly want. Idelette’s words of calling, purpose and vision at SheLoves Magazine roused me to something grand, something meaningful. “Space” just didn’t seem to fit.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? A spiritual director turned off by the word “space”. I’m glad I can laugh at myself.
This year, I knew I needed to give ear to my resistance, but also choose to move past it. I booked a silent day at a nearby retreat center to get away from my favorite distractions and spend some time really paying attention to what God might be inviting me into. (It didn’t escape me that I was already stepping into some “space”.)
I’m so glad that I did.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:19 (NIV)
Light, space, zest—that’s GOD!
So, with Him on my side I’m fearless,
afraid of no one and nothing.
Psalm 27:1 (The Message)
Don’t dump me, GOD;
my God, don’t stand me up.
Hurry and help me;
I want some wide open space in my life!
Psalm 38:21 (The Message)
When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
he brought me into a spacious place.
Psalm 118:5 (NIV)
I’m looking forward to what God’s going to do with the space that I’m giving Him, and the space that I’m finding in my own life. I’m looking forward to leaning into the definitions of space:
• the distance from other people or things that a person needs in order to remain comfortable
• the opportunity to assert or experience one’s identity or needs freely
• large or magnificent in scale: expansive
• the number of lines of printed or written matter.
I have a sneaking suspicion that my One Word is going to transform 2013.