I find reflection more beneficial, and sometimes it’s hard to even keep up with that.
My life was in a constant state of flux for four years — college graduate in 2008, wife and first-time homebuyer in 2009, mother in 2010.
I was just starting to find my footing in 2011 when the tornadoes hit, taking away Zac’s job and redefining mine.
Last year was all about recovery and redemption.
As summer faded into fall, a little book called “Blue Like Jazz” made me realize that I had been standing for some time at a precipice. I needed to either dig in my heels or step off and trust that I would be given wings to fly.
Although it often takes a while to know for sure if you listened to the voice of God or your own faulty logic, I am at peace with my choice.
I’ve spent so much time adapting to major life changes over the past few years that only recently have I noticed a more gradual shift that has been occurring inside of me. I’m not that much older or wiser, but I do have a deeper desire to be better.
As we rounded the corner to 2013, I tried to think of ways I could channel this spiritual energy into something constructive.
I decided on a practice that I had read about last January in Guideposts, a monthly magazine promoted as “True Stories of Hope and Inspiration.” That month’s cover story was adapted from author Debbie Macomber’s book “One Perfect Word.”
Macomber, who writes thousands of words in her fiction and nonfiction works, chooses just one to focus on every year. In the past 20 years, those words have ranged from hunger and brokenness to trust, prayer and hope.
“These words have comforted me, challenged me and brought me closer to God,” Macomber wrote.
In another article I found online, Macomber wrote that it isn’t necessary to stress about picking the right word because it will choose you.
“God takes part in the choosing,” she said. “That’s why the word is perfect for us. We may not see it at the time, but as we look back we see that it all worked together — our word, our life, our journey.”
While one of Macomber’s friends was looking for a word, she noticed the same one kept popping up in random places: a fast-food cup, a worship CD, an ornament and a mug given to her around Christmas by friends.
Her word to dive into for the next year was joy.
I didn’t spend a lot of time looking for signs. Somehow I knew shortly after I started toying with the “one perfect word” idea that my first one should be love.
At first, that might seem like an easy assignment. Who wouldn’t want to spend 365 days reveling in love?
However, if we were all really honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that love is hard. We don’t have a clue how to get it, how to keep it or how to show it.
Thankfully, the Apostle Paul provided a few guidelines. Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. It isn’t irritable and keeps no record of being wronged. It rejoices over what is right rather than what is wrong.
Furthermore, love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.
In other words, none of us love ourselves or anybody else the way we’re supposed to.
So my challenge for the next year is to explore what it means to love God, family and friends, enemies and even myself.
I will choose to love in whatever big and small ways present themselves not because doing so is convenient, rewarding or my first instinct. I will love because God is love and God wants me to love.
Less than a week into the New Year, it seems He wanted to test me to see how serious I am about this whole love thing.
At the end of a day that had already left me in a bad mood, I was thrown into a situation where I was certainly within my rights to make one decision, but a nagging little voice inside kept telling me that love would do something else.
I consciously chose the latter. I didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy about it afterward, don’t expect to receive a thank you and am by no means claiming to be a saint because for once I focused on love rather than revenge.
But in a meeting I covered last week, someone said, “It’s never wrong to do the right thing.”
Although sometimes it isn’t easy to know what the right thing is, love is always a pretty solid bet.