I’ve resisted the movement of people picking a word for the new year rather than a resolution. I’m not sure why…maybe because I hate eliminating options, maybe because I was afraid of failure, maybe because it was vague.
But this year I was challenged individually and prayed about it. And I woke up one night with a clear sense of a word.
I started out with a feeling of disappointment. It’s not a very dramatic word. It’s the opposite of “backward” and who wants that for a word for a year? It’s not sexy like “courage” or bold like “strength.” It’s not promising like hope. It just kind of sits there, inching along.
But when you have been where I have been this past year, dealing with cancer, trying hard not to go backwards, it’s not a bad word. My cancer has once again been declared as “stable,” another not sexy, bold or promising word. I’ve fought physically, emotionally and spiritually this last year. I’ve wanted to retreat within myself.
Even with the most amount of hope the word “stable” can muster, I don’t just want to stay where I am. I want to move again. I want to move forward. I have to confess I don’t really know exactly what that looks like or where it is. Each time I wrestle the disease down, each time I draw in my life because of physical limitations, I struggle to know how to expand into the grace of extended time.
Do I go back to doing what I was doing before things got desperate? Projects I was working on got wrapped up, just in case “something happened.” Some projects moved on with other people taking responsibility. Some things don’t seem as important as they did a year ago. The same was true with relationships — some wrapped up while others moved on.
So, do I go back to what I knew or move forward? I’m familiar with back; not so much with forward. And since I’m not as strong as I used to be in many ways, could I even do the things I used to do? A few things I tried this last month (like facilitating a meeting) didn’t go so well. I’m not the same person I was before this last year battling cancer.
A verse comes to mind: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13
It feels like a good thing to do, even if it is a strain. Straining is not dependent on the amount of strength you have. It’s going beyond what you think you can do. I will strain to move forward because, even though I don’t have clarity of what “the goal for the prize of the upward call” is, I know it is good. And I know God will be faithful to show me what this all means…as He uses the word in my life this year —