A friend of mine called the other day to ask what my theme for 2011 is. For the last seven years or so I’ve operated with themes that keep me on course throughout a year. It started a few years back in the Fall when the Lord was speaking to me about hope. I embraced hope as a theme for that next year and each Fall since then the Lord seems to show me an area of my life to focus in on. One year it was “Rejoice” and I was excited because I was looking forward to celebrating many things. Instead, that year everything fell apart.
As I cried and watched things unravel the theme would come to mind- Rejoice. Rejoicing despite disappointment and pain got me through that year. Another year the Lord spoke to me about gratitude and not taking things for granted so I chose “Thanksgiving” as the theme. Every day I would write something I was thankful for on a strip of paper and make it into a loop. I lived each day looking for reasons to give thanks. By the end of the year I had a chain of gratitude looped all around my room and a grateful heart. In the process of intentionally practicing hope, joy, gratitude and such, I have experienced my life more fully.
So when my friend called to ask about this year, it was as if he was waiting to hear what he should be looking for in 2011. Luckily I was ready with an answer. My theme for 2011 is “Embrace.” I know it’s vague but it’s supposed to be big enough for the whole year. Besides, I don’t make it up, it comes to me as I sit with the Lord and he gently exposes parts of me that He is refining. It is fun, like a game almost or a challenge to see if I can listen and focus in enough to see the opportunities and ways he is teaching me to embrace others and their ideas and his timing and his ways. I think of that Sunday School song- “His Banner Over Me is Love”. It’s like this year his banner over me is “Embrace.” And instead of beating me over the head with my stubbornness, he marches out with me under the banner of embrace, out on another adventure.
Really he could beat me over the head with my stubbornness. I am not the most embracing of people. I tend to have an idea of how I want things and if I’m honest, I like to have things my way. But lately the Lord has been whispering, “embrace” to me as I listen to others’ ideas and when I meet people that seem just a little off. “Embrace” knocks around in my head when there is an opportunity for a new experience or new way of doing the same old thing. In 2011 I am looking forward to embracing all that the Lord has for me. I anticipate letting go of my own way and embracing the ways of others. I look forward to a whole new cast of characters that enrich my life because I choose to embrace them this year. And already I can see some realities of my life that I need to stop fighting against and embrace. This year I plan to embrace my limited budget. I will embrace my loved ones for who they truly are. I can learn better to embrace my shape and my own feelings. And perhaps in practicing embracing I will learn something of what it is to walk humbly with my God, freed up to embrace His leading.
What theme would you choose for 2011? What will you choose to embrace this year?
Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA