I learned of an idea for the new year that made me glad...a new way that is better than resolutions and broken promises that are forged from frail human metal. The idea of living with one word was so much more doable for an easily distracted, too easily discouraged girl like me.
So I sought for it. I looked at websites. I listened to sermons. I listened to my friends words, my family's words, the words mundane and the words profound. I listened and sought and looked to God.
No great flash of light. I had to choose.
"Change is possible, but focus is required.", I read. I must change. But effort born of a self betterment mentality can turn quickly into pride, introspection, and one can wind up a pharisee and be worse off than before.
I had been compiling a list. Asking myself questions.
What does God want for my life? What do I most need to be more like the lovely Jesus? Is it possible to change the broken mindsets of a woman who has lived 52 years struggling to believe she is loved, not just tolerated?
How I wanted the word to be so rich. So unique.
But as often happens, one puts one foot in front of the other, and life happens while we're making other plans. And I listened and I listened to hear His word, and in the seeking it settled in slowly, but not profoundly.
It was there in my list, but not particularly special. So in rolled the new year, and I had to pick.
Listen. Listen, Listen.
I, who spend too much time talking. Broken by all the times I've missed hearing the hearts of others because I'm too busy trying to fix everything. Busted by the times I've interrupted my husband to get my point across. Desperate to be gracious. Longing to hear God, others and my own heart. Could I do this, in the noise of this present darkness and the folly of my own babble?
Yes. By the grace of God (there is no other way), listening would be my appointed governor for the next 364, a simple word without complicated rules. I would certainly fall down, but I would get up with this one word. Already, I see its power.
Tired, hungry I speak ill of another. Out of envy, ugly words rise up from a redeemed heart that has forgotten its redemption. I listen to myself. And quickly, blessedly I run to repent. I listen to the Great One, ancient words spoken to how many millions?... "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.." "Now go, and sin no more." And I listen a little more. "Who are you to judge another man's servant? To His own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for God is able to make him stand."
Sweet relief comes with the listening, and action: my prayers lifted for the one I cut down, my heart turning, changing. A determination comes to close my mouth, that member St. James calls "a restless evil". And not only that. Listening means acting on what one hears. Apologies in order. Listening becomes hearing becomes doing.
No, it's not a sexy word. It was sought for, but I think it might have found me, perhaps in the place of my greatest need.
All those broken down promises, like grist in a mill for millions every year:
Nothing wrong with any of those resolutions folks make every new year. But I'm wagering those of you reading here have already found the discouragement of that route. Ultimately too, on that list of good things, aren't the truly important missing?
Jesus perfected the art of keeping it simple. How we need that in a world of fiscal cliffs, babies shot down, a gazillion tweets and the din of a technological world spinning out of control.
Maybe one word can help. Just one.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,
Here's a link to the One Word book. I haven't read it, but I've heard good things. www.myoneword.org