Back in January, I chose the word "abundant" as part of the One Word 365 project. Since I have never kept to any New Year's Resolutions, I thought this would be easier--er, more meaningful...yeah, that's it--than attempting to keep any resolutions. It was great. I thought and thought about my word, and then chose it based on what Jesus says in John 10:10
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
I acquired an image and put it on my blog and in my Facebook and Twitter headers. I wrote a post about it. I followed up with a devotional about it at MOPS.
And then I forgot about it.
Like every other New Year's Resolution, I failed.
And I haven't really felt abundant all year, and even less so in the last few months. I'm living no more abundantly now than I was when I chose the word.
But in the last few days, I read a book and watched a video that made me think (and made me rethink liking Brene Brown and Peter Rollins because they were making me start being more introspective than I really wanted to be). In Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are there were two ideas that stood out to me overall (but really, the entire book is worth reading--and it's not too long and it's not too hard).
Brown defined authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are" (page 50). Later in the book, she also included a quotation from theologian Howard Thurman:
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." (page 115).
I wanted to cry when I read that, because I don't really feel alive. I am existing day to day, but not living abundantly. I get so bogged down in stuff that drains me and I don't fill back up. I stare at the pile of socks on my bedroom floor that's been there for days or weeks because by the time I get everything else folded, I could care less about matching socks. I look around at what needs to be straightened up and cleaned up just five minutes after I've spent time doing it. Or less than five minutes. The other day I folded a blanket in the family room, put it on the back of a chair, walked into the kitchen, turned and came back into the family room, and the kids had already unfolded it and started playing with it on the floor. I lost it. I yelled over a stupid blanket on the floor.
That's not abundant life. That's not coming alive. That's dying a slow death.
A few weeks ago, I spent two hours talking to one of my pastors about spiritual gifts. He'd sent out a letter to people reminding them of their gifts and encouraging anyone to come talk to him about how to use them if they weren't sure. I knew I hadn't been using mine and took him up on the offer. After that conversation, I've been asked by multiple people at different times--unknown to each other--to lead/teach something. There are a few women in my community who are interested in reading and discussing A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (and it would be good to start with something that is ready to go so I have time to write my own material for the future). I started to get excited; I started to feel as if I was coming alive again, like when I researched and wrote and taught my study guide Called to Influence.
On the day I am drafting this post, it is actually the second one I've drafted. I feel energized. Happy. Joyful. There is so much that I want to write and teach and I am so hopeful for opportunities to do so, and am so grateful that there is interest from women in my community who want some of the same things that I do. Because really, when you are the only one who is interested in something, it can feel pretty lonely. In the coming year, I want to come fully alive and be authentic. I want to really learn who I am and encourage other women to learn who they really are and pursue their callings.