We’ve all done those silly quizzes on Facebook, haven’t we? The ones where you find out what animal you are, which character from a movie we are, what our eye colour says about our personality. And I confess, I do enjoy these quizzes Sometimes the results are scarily accurate; sometimes the results are so ridiculously out of the ballpark that it’s laughable.
The other day I did one of those quizzes. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was about finding out your word for 2018. It was from one of those Christian pages and as a follower of Jesus, I thought this could be interesting, but at the same time I was a little sceptical because I’m a naturally suspicious (discerning is a much better word!) person, so I was ready for a more “aww, that’s nice” response to my word, which I figured was probably “love” or “grace” or something equally warm and fuzzy.
Now before I tell you what my word is, you need a little context. I work as a residential youth worker and a school chaplain/student wellbeing officer, and I am always doing my head in attending professional development seminars, reading books, researching better ways to work with my kids and understand them, attending training, talking to people, and trying to find ways to do it better and with more impact. What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. Well, nothing. Unless it becomes all-consuming and results in burn out and exhaustion. Burn out and exhaustion are bad for anyone, but I have chronic fatigue so it’s especially not good for me.
I’m not just a residential youth worker and a school chaplain/student wellbeing officer. I love this part of my life; I have waited and worked many years to fulfil this dream of working with hurting and broken young people. I am also a wife, a mother (of my two adorable fur children – don’t judge me), a daughter, an auntie, a cousin, a niece, a friend, a worship leader, a singer, a writer, and most importantly, a child of God. I am a huge advocate of the importance of relationships and how relationship is an essential foundation in all aspects of life. But in the midst of all my striving, I found that, in spite of my heart’s desire, my relationship with God took more of a back seat and I just kept going and pushing and striving under my own steam. And I wanted it to be different.
Just before Christmas I visited my cousin’s church and heard this amazing woman speak. I don’t remember everything she said, but her passion and love for Jesus was infectious and I found myself wanting that same passion. I realised that doing life in my own strength wasn’t working anymore, and if I really wanted to be and do my absolute best, I needed to prioritise my relationship with God and let Him guide me and go before me. That Sunday was a turning point for me.
So …. now for my word. I took the quiz and my word is …. wait for it …. SIMPLIFY. That word resonated in my spirit and I felt a heady sense of burdens being lifted. I googled the word “simplify” and the following definition came up:
Simplify – make (something) simpler or easier to do or understand; make simple/simpler; make easy/easier to understand/do; make plainer, clarify, make more comprehensible, make more intelligible, remove the complexities from, disentangle, untangle, unravel, paraphrase, put in words of one syllable, make more accessible, streamline, reduce to basic essentials, make something less complicated and therefore easier to do or understand.
I particularly love the part of the definition where it says “reduce to basic essentials” and “make something less complicated and therefore easier to do or understand”. I tend to overcomplicate things with my incredibly overactive brain (please, if anyone finds the “OFF” switch, let me know, STAT) so this definition is a breath of fresh air. For me, my “basic essential” is my relationship with God, from which everything else will flow. And if I have that as my first priority, the stress and burden lifts from me and the One who created the universe and for Who nothing is too difficult, takes it on and carries it, makes a way where there seems to be no way, and does exceedingly more than I can ever do.
This is my journey. I’m excited to see how the coming year unfolds. What’s your word for 2018?