Confession: I’m a type-A person who loves structure, clear guidelines, and as little uncertainty as possible.
And because of that, I loved being in school. I loved syllabi (once I got over the shock of seeing a whole semester’s worth at once), the dependable calendar, and the predictability of knowing where I needed to be every Monday morning at 8 AM.
And so when New Year’s Eve rolled around each year, I would look back at my resolutions and goals, and grade myself. The resolution was like my syllabus, and my year would be graded according to how many of the requirements I completed.
The only problem is that life isn’t that predictable. Things happen. Distractions come up. Unavoidable things arise and have to be dealt with. Often.
What do you do when you set a goal for yourself, and then it becomes completely clear that your goal has to change? For example, for my third year of running, I wanted to run a 10K. I worked up to a 5 mile trail run, and then injured myself. The 10K wasn’t going to happen. Not because I was a failure, or hadn’t worked toward my goal, but because something happened that necessitated a change.
Goal-making can be healthy, or it can become an obsession. And so last year, in an attempt at healthy goal-making, I started the practice of selecting one word for the year. Last year’s word was love, and within that one word, I had the flexibility to face life’s challenges however they needed to be faced – all with one word in mind: love.
A few weeks before this past Christmas, I sat looking over my Christmas list of who I hoped to give presents to. And for some reason, in the midst of that moment when I was more consumed with crossing items off my to-do list than I was with experiencing the anticipation of Advent, I wondered how present I was even being in my own life. Life can become so fragmented, chaotic, and stressful if I let it, and rather than merely giving presents, I wanted to learn how to be present more of the time.
For this year, I want to spend less time behind a computer screen, and more time away from it. I want to experience life’s moments as they happen, rather than experiencing them through the screen on the back of my camera. In the moments that arise, I want to be present, whatever that may look like.
Present to God, listening with ears open, and watching with eyes ready.
Present to myself, giving myself respect and love, rather than judgment and unfair criticism.
Present to my family, my husband and kids, as they navigate the journeys in their lives – both as part of our family, and as individuals.
Present to my church and my community, attentive to the places of deep need where my calling intersects the groanings of the world.
As part of my journey towards being present in my life, I decided to create a hashtag to keep myself accountable. From time to time, I will use #BePresent2015, and you are welcome to use it, too.
Do you do the “one word” challenge? If you do, what word are you living with this year?