Today marks one full calendar year of marriage to Charlie. Words like gratitude and frustration and grace all swirl together in my mind when I think about all that we’ve experienced this year. Lots of struggle, lots of fun, some heartache and grief. But it has all been so very special to experience together.
Not so long ago, I was a single mama of two boys, teaching in a very challenging environment (think Freedom Writers, except 7th graders), and finishing my Master’s degree. That year, I forewent the punishment of making any New Year’s resolutions and chose one word to serve as a beacon of light in what was a difficult season of life. My friend Kari had done this and it inspired me.
When I think about this past year and ways that I’d like to grow, the word I want to focus on this year is generous.
Generous (defined). adjective. 1. liberal in sharing; unselfish. 2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.
The peach blossom represents generosity and hope. The way it flowers in the dead of winter reminds me that when I feel cold or hardened, there is still room for giving of myself to others. With my thoughts, with my time, with my finances, with my words. I want my actions to reflect a generous heart and spirit with no strings attached. From viewing people in the most charitable light to embracing a less scheduled, rigid routine so that I can live more in the moment with my family, I am praying for a heart of generosity and kindness towards the people in my life.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV)
These verses help me see that my joy is based not on what I have (or keep for myself) but what I give to others. And it’s in this place of open-heartedness and hospitality that I desire to rest and thrive.
This past year, my ex-husband and I had a pretty significant disagreement while updating our parenting plan. Attorneys got involved, and on more than one occasion I found myself in the fetal position because I was so exhausted and tired of the conflict and unrest. Things are still not entirely resolved. Decisions and paperwork still hang in the balance.
But on my kitchen counter right now sits a Christmas gift that I purchased for my ex-husband and his wife, a custom-designed, hand-embroidered wall-hanging of their first initial.
Every time I see the beautifully-wrapped square package with their names written on the gift tag, I am reminded of what it means to live in a spirit of generosity. It means giving when you don’t feel like it. It means choosing to see someone’s actions from a perspective different than your own. It means giving of your resources not necessarily because you want to because you know it’s the loving thing to do.
And that is the spirit in which I want to walk in 2018.
So what about you? If you’re not all that into New Year’s resolutions – or even if you are – I encourage you to give this ‘word of the year’ thing a try. Websites like http://oneword365.com/ and http://myoneword.org/ are a good place to start!
Here’s to a year of wholeness and gratitude and generosity.