January 6, 2018

2018 - One Little Word

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As I mentioned in my last Currently post, I was going to try to choose One Little Word for 2018. I tossed around a few ideas, and even tried to think of what words I would retroactively assign to the last few years. The words that came to mind for the last few years are brave, peace and courage. These three words mean so much to me, and although I don't feel like I fully embody any of them, they stand out to me when I think about 2015, 2016 and 2017.

After reflecting for a little while, it was time to look forward...to 2018. I looked on Instagram and Pinterest for examples and inspiration. I thought about what I wanted more of in 2018, and even what I wished there was less of in 2017, for me personally. This past year was a very different kind of year for me.

It's easy for me to watch my One Second Everyday video and feel like it was an amazing year, full of joy and fun...but I'll be 100% honest with you and say that it wasn't full of joy and fun. Obviously, there were lots of positive moments, and I recorded as many of them as I could. I don't think it's a coincidence that 2017 was the year that I recorded a short video every single day. I think God gave me that app, as weird as it may sound, at the perfect time.

If I think about 2017 (without my fun little video) the word that immediately comes to mind, for me personally, is darkness. Honestly, I felt like I was in the dark. As I've started to talk to some friends about this, I often say that I was sitting in "my dark corner" most of the time. It effected my work and productivity. It effected my relationships. It effected my attitude.

Did I still enjoy parts of 2017? Yes.
Did I have amazing moments with some of my favorite people? Yes.
Do I still feel like Romania is where I'm supposed to be? Yes.
Do I still love the work that I'm doing? Yes.

And yet, the darkness was present. It still is present. As we all know, things don't drastically change as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. But the light is starting to emerge. In the first six days of 2018, the word light has already shown up more times than I can count. Obviously, it's on my radar now so I'm noticing more, but I've been hearing it in songs and seeing it in books and articles.

What do I wish there was less of in 2017? Darkness. What do I want more of in 2018? Light. Even as I answer that first question, I'm reminded of a quote by Leonard Cohen that I came across as I was researching what light means to me.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." 
Let me tell you, folks, that's good stuff right there. Personally, I think there's power in brokenness, and I've thought that for a long time. So, as you can imagine, when this quote popped up on my computer screen, I almost lost it. I broke a bit in 2017, but that's what has allowed this light to get in and shine...

New apartment decor for 2018
When I was looking for ideas and saw light on a few idea lists, I knew I had found my One Little Word. I've spent the last few days thinking about this word and what it meant for me to choose this word. I decided to break it down, and apply it in different ways in 2018...and beyond.

  • Seek light: Jesus is light. He is the light of the world. I want to be in His light. I want to better understand His light. This one is pretty simple. Now, is it just me or did anyone else start singing In the Light by DC Talk when they read this bullet point? 
  • Be a light: I want to share that light, His light. Can we go back to how emotional I got when we lit the candles placed in the oranges at the Tigmandru Christmas service? The picture that I took that night still gets me. All of those sweet kiddos in the background are exactly who I want to be a light for. My teens in the It Takes Courage groups are who I want to be a light for. My coworkers are who I want to be a light for. My Romanian Studies Program students are who I want to be a light for. My family and friends are who I want to be a light for. 
  • Lighten up: This one is a little lighter, no pun intended. Sometimes, I take things too seriously. I need to chill. Case closed. 
  • Lighten the load: I say "yes" a lot, and so, as you can imagine, saying "no" is extremely difficult for me. I want to do and help and serve and be...but that comes at a cost. I do too much and then withdraw into my dark corner. Here's to hoping that I can say "no" more often. And here's to knowing that being more selective with a "yes" will make it mean more. 
So there you have it. Light. My word of the year. I know it's not going to be easy. I know the darkness will still linger, but I am encouraged by a quote I recently came across. Frances of Assisi once wrote, "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." Light is a powerful, powerful thing. 

One final thing to share with you. I received the book God Calling (comparable to My Utmost for His Highest) for Christmas from some American friends here in Romania. This book has a reading for every day of the year. Would you like to take a wild guess as to what the very first day's reading was about...?
I stand between the years. The Light of My Presence is flung across the year to come - the radiance of the Sun of Righteousness. Backward, over the past year, is My Shadow thrown, hiding trouble and sorrow and disappointment. 
Dwell not on the past - only on the present. Only use the past as the trees use My Sunlight to absorb it, to make from it in after days the warming fire-rays. So store only the blessings from Me, the Light of the World. Encourage yourselves by the thought of these. 
I mean...seriously?! "The Light of My Presence is flung across the year to come...". January 1, 2018. The year of light, and this is the first reading. Coincidence? I think not.

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