Thy Word is a light unto my path, and a lamp unto my feet.
Last year this time, as I was writing my resolutions, I also chose a theme to strive for. My theme was focus. I wanted to focus more on God. On my family. On my writing.
It didn't go so well. In fact I'd say 2011 ended up being the my most unfocused year yet.
Lord, what went wrong?
Nothing went wrong, from my perspective, he answered. He taught me humility and helplessness and he gave me a lot of grace and mercy for all the times I wandered off, completely out-of-focus. Recently on Beth Moore's blog she talked about summing up our year in 3 words (okay, mine actually ended up being 4 or 5 words. But close enough).
1. Depression. It's seasonal depression, but it was much worse and lasted longer than previous years.
2. Eye-openers. Some things revealed to me about my job, and closed doors.
3. Other people. Just about every close friend - H, N, K, M - had BIG stressful, sometimes scary things happen in their lives this year. And family members, too: B and J.
I planned on focus; He planned other things for me. But that's okay, because when I look at the picture above, I see a dark path going some unknown place, but I also see those beautiful little lamps lighting the way, and that's all I need.
This year, I've made no resolutions. But I still like the "theme" idea, especially after reading this article about Debbie Maccomber's book One Perfect Word. I asked God what one word He wanted me to use as my theme for the upcoming year.
Last year I memorized Psalm 84 during Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge (one thing I did succeed in), and a few days ago I was meditating on these verses, and He showed me that this psalm is about seeking Him. "My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord..." Even the birds seek His dwelling place to be close to Him. And "blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.... they go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion."
That's my theme this year: seeking Him (okay, that's two words. Close enough). It's a sort of pilgrimage of the heart. Remembering to seek Him more through the distractions of each day. I used to think of it in terms of focus; but the last year taught me that seeking is the first essential thing, the necessary step before focus is even really possible.
Part of seeking Him is listening to Him. That's so hard. My brain isn't used to waiting to hear something; it wants something immediately. I have a toddler's brain. It jumps from one thought to another faster than I can keep track of, leaving no room for me to hear what God might want me to hear.
I've started going through the devotional journal, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, which is all about listening to what God says. I meditate on a few verses, then draw a straight line down the space for journaling. Then I try to stop everything else going on in my mind and just listen. When the day's to-do-list pops into my head, or some other distraction, I jot it down in the space to the right of the line, so I can move on and start listening again. When I hear something I think God might be telling me - for instance a friend to pray for, or an image or thought that forms related to the verses I've just read, I write it down in the space to the left of the line.
Little lamps lighting my path.
Closing with a quote from another devotional that I've gone through in the past and still look at from time to time: Experiencing God Day by Day, by Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby. Here's a snippet from what they wrote for January 1st:
God does not need your resolutions, or your promises to try harder this year. If your resolve to obey God last year did not make you more faithful, it won't work this year either. Jesus asks for your love.
When you are in love with someone, what do you do? You spend time with him. You think about him. You seek Him. All else follows from that... (Matt 22:36-40).