I'm not one to be convinced in the word "mantra" or a single word or phrase for the New Year in place of resolutions, but I am slowly realizing how vastly courageous people can be to name their wounds so easily. I'm not talking about the goals to focus on travel or cooking—not that these are too lofty or not lofty enough — they simply challenge other parts of our lives, and not necessarily the deep-rooted issues and hidden places of our hearts.
What I am talking about are the words people all over the Internet have boldly declared to be overarching themes for 2014 — even simple words, like "simplify/alive/brave/rest." I find this trend to be striking and odd; why would you label an entire year of your life — that you have not lived yet — to a goal cut in slivers or one specific feeling? Dwelling on this concept gave me a new understanding that I am just beginning to sift through. These one-word-one-phrase goals may be intangible in some ways, but I commend the person who recognizes that the ability to truly rest or live life abundantly is just out of his or her grasp; it points to raw need and the understanding that when we peel away these layers, we are all battling something.
People often come into our lives briefly to shed insight that — for some reason or another — we need in the moment or present season. Their words are nourishing somehow or they prick our hearts to lead us to where true nourishment can be found. Sometimes these people slip under the radar because they come and go so quickly or because the only time you even notice them is when they are so outside of your world that their observations or advice strike a chord.
I am always startled by these pure interactions; it's as if I stopped believing in shared human experiences until I am suddenly shocked back to life with a richer understanding that blood flows in both of our veins. I guess it's the classic "feel good feeling" that is best described by the Beatles: "We're all one, and life flows on within you and without you." I am awake to the thought that human relationships — or encounters — are much more complex than I remember, and the feeling is like a flood or a forties movie flashback where the picture gets all swimmy and begins to echo.
The other day, someone I barely know told me that I was peeling away the layers, uncovering a sense of compassion and confidence that I was indeed on a journey without turning back. She told me that process is good. I think the main reason it resonates with me is because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that 2014 will be marked by processes and progress. I think I was uneasy about the hurdles that will inevitably exist, but her words comforted me and showed me there is beauty in process. This thought came hand-in-hand with freedom. Our God loves processes, doesn't He? Transformation is an integral part of the Christian life. Transformation is even imperative in the secular world: Everything we do in life to meet our goals and strengthen are weaknesses requires transformation.
I may not confidently declare a word or phrase for 2014 and post it all over my house or Facebook, but I am lifting a still, small voice in the hidden places of my heart like water from a well. I am whispering words that need to mark my everyday life: Bravery. Beauty in the process. Surprise — particularly surprising myself of all that can be good. Rather than clinging to fear and self-defeat, I want to be led toward healing and confidence that the Holy One is a mysterious provider and protector.
I want to look back at 2014 and know that the fear reigning in my life no longer has a hold on me. I know the process of triumphing over fear and anxiety is one that never really goes away in this life because of sin, just as sanctification occurs throughout the Christian life and we never fully "arrive" or reach the fullness of godliness. But the scriptures tell us that we, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another [2 Corinthians 3:18]. If that doesn't capture the beauty of process, I don't know what does.