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Abundant Life in 2017




I love a fresh start. I'm always thrilled when Sunday comes because it means preparing for a new week. There's nothing I love more than peeling plastic wrapping off of whatever new and exciting product Amazon delivered to my house this week (read: daily. Prime has ruined me). Breaking open the binding of a new book and hearing that beautiful cracking sound and the crispness of a new sweater are in my top 10 favorite things in the world. I keep a physical planner (Hello, beautiful) and love opening up to a new page to plan out my days and weeks. If I didn't hate (un)packing so much, I would move yearly just to start fresh with cleaning and decorating! New beginnings are my jam. So, as you can imagine, January 1st is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. Leaving the old and beginning a new year strikes a cord in me like few other things.

This year is no different. In fact, I am hard pressed to remember a year that I have been more eager to bid adieu to than 2016. This year was not my best. Personally, I struggled in a number of areas leading to a severely low level of mental, physical and emotional health. I was dealing with anxiety and a general feeling of "not myself" for months. I was overcommitted and stretched myself far too thin leading to a (not so) mini meltdown that resulted in me quitting my full time job. I felt as though I needed to give myself physical space and time to figure out what was going on. I had thought I was going to experience a profound revelation about the things other people were doing in my life that were problematic or perhaps some of my own destructive thought patterns that needed some work (I'm a counselor, remember?). 

What I found, however, were none of these. After several weeks spent doing next to nothing, binge watching TV and dreading any hours I needed to be at work, I realized what had been hindering me all along: I lack discipline. For much of the first half of 2016, I sought balance. I worked to make sure I had "margin" and prioritized rest over most other things. Rest has always been lacking in my life so I had recently begun to pursue it with more resolve. But instead of utilizing it, I began to idolize it. Instead of working from rest, I sought rest above all else, tossing other good and important factors to personal health aside. In other words, I got really lazy. 



Here's the thing about this revelation: it does not fit me. Anyone that knows me well knows that "grace" is my mantra. If I weren't so anxious and noncommittal, I would tattoo the word on my forearm like the trendy millennial that I am. To me, this idea that I might need to shift the direction of my own personal energy and effort didn't quite make sense. 

In spite of the fact that I couldn't quite rationalize these two seemingly opposing ideas, it was certainly clear that what I felt I had discovered was true. I was lazy in my marriage. I was lazy in my spiritual disciplines. I was lazy in my friendships and lazy doesn't even begin to describe the effort I was putting into my physical health. Even more indicative of my lack of discipline was the fact that instead of choosing things that I know I love and that I'm certain refresh me like reading or painting, I would choose TV or endless social media scrolling to fill my down time.

It has taken nearly 3 months for me to begin to make sense of discipline and grace and to understand where this new idea was taking me. Each year I choose a word to help keep my focus where I feel Jesus is leading me for the next 12 months. It's certainly not a science and rarely do I find that I stick 100% to my initial direction because, well, life. Nevertheless, I've found that this practice is one of the things that ignites the lover-of-fresh-starts within me. When I started thinking about my word for 2017, discipline seemed to be a great option. I also considered balance because it seemed as though this is ultimately what I had been seeking through my avoidance of effort. But I realized that balance isn't truly what I've been seeking, nor is it even really possible because of the very nature of our lives here on earth. What I have been truly seeking and desiring has been abundance. 


"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Balance is no longer going to be what I seek. When I picture a scale and imagine the various parts of my life attempting to be placed on one side or the other in order to keep it level, it's impossible. But if I toss out balance and begin to seek abundance in Christ, everything changes. As I throw everything to one side of the scale, I suddenly no longer avoid things of effort but I also no longer long desperately for rest. In Him, I have all of the grace that I need to be disciplined in work, health and leisure. Abundance is where grace and discipline meet as I realize that true joy is not found entirely in rest or completely in productivity but, rather, in the person of Jesus. 

What this looks like lived out, I'm not really sure.  I have begun making a list of a few fun goals, along with some pretty serious ones to help get me started when the new year rolls around. But I do know that the impact of this perspective shift will be vast and that there's nothing balanced about it. I had been grasping for small glimpses of joy in emotional, physical and relational efforts that led to burnout when, in fact, Christ is joy. Similarly, my choices to live as Christ would have me to live (i.e. disciplined and wise) are part of this abundant life available to us here on earth (I won't even dive into the eternal ramifications!). These choices help me to pursue the God who is abundance. He will supply all that I need (grace) in order to do all that he has for me (discipline). Even better? My failure or success, good days and bad days, absolutely none of it changes my standing before God. That is abundant life. 

So, here's to 2017. In 2016, I learned about abundance. In 2017, I'm going to live it. 








3 comments

  1. Such Scriptural depth in this! I love that word/perspective for 2017. Also....Prime has ruined me. And abundant living would very easily be applied to getting a lake house together. Just sayin.

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    Replies
    1. Now that you've mentioned it, I think the only way to truly fulfill the word is to get that lake house. ;)

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  2. I love this! Thanks for your honesty. I relate to the struggle you described, and the solution to seek Jesus as our abundance is amazing, inspiring and helpful even on a practical level! This really helped me and I'm sure will help others as well!

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