Every year I select a focus word for the year that will carry me through. The word encourages me to keep sight of my goals and purpose. A gentle reminder of what is important to me and guide me on days when I need a pep talk. And days when I feel overwhelmed and I need some positivity.
This year is no different. In fact it was as difficult to decide on my word as it is every other year. While some people still make resolutions or are determined to not make them (whichever side you’re on, you’re not wrong!) I choose to reflect and redirect my goals as I grow in number and spirit. Throw in the fact that I’m a planner… Guys I kinda need something to hold on to. Something that inspires me.
So after a stock take of my life, my household contents and clothes towards the end of 2020, my word was prompted by how many “things” I have. Household items I don’t use, clothing I don’t wear and everything I want to reduce in my life. It’s no wonder my word turned out to be LESS. I needed less of everything in my life. Coincidentally it’s the exact opposite of my 2020 word, INCREASE. Not intentional at all.
My family and I entered this new year with less of what we owned a year ago. Moving house forced us to declutter and get rid of a whole lot of unnecessary junk. Unfortunately we entered the new year with loads of pain and emotional baggage. Not a great start if I am to continue with my focus word.
Just when I think I’m okay, my whole world crumbles. Constant disappointments and ruined plans. Worry has become second nature and my hope has started waning. I have never felt this hopeless in my life. My facade of strength and dignity is fading. There have been days when I can’t bear to face my kids. Not because I don’t love them. But because at this point in our lives I am unable to offer them stability. I feel like I am failing them. I know I am failing them because they are feeding off my negativity.
I’ve always believed that my life has purpose. That I am the purpose. I was created for a reason. I mean, I am kinda awesome-ish.
Yet I’ve been questioning myself a lot. Praying and crying for all this to be over. Pleading with God to bless us and pour out His divine favour. Asking Him to take away these feelings of hopelessness. Begging for healing. My heart is broken and I’ve become a worrier instead of the warrior I’ve always been. I’m in desperate need of a miracle.
This whole while I’ve been so focused on our circumstances. On our pain. Desperate for this situation to end, forgetting all the blessings that’s been bestowed upon us. How God has been with us every step of the way. And I’m talking big time. After a forced move, we’ve had the most amazing family and friends who have helped us transition into our new normal. We may not have moved into our forever home but we have a roof over our heads. We’ve even managed to evade Janu-worry with money to spare until our next pay dates, in spite of extra expenses we were forced to incur.
When I sat down and took stock of our current situation, I once again realised that we are blessed and highly favoured. This was impressed upon me again when I encouraged someone on Sunday that’s also facing a difficult time. So many of us are. We experience pain every day and while our pain is different, no one can measure it and say for certain that one is worse than another. There is no diminishing the effects it has on anyone’s life.
It took my own pain to comfort and encourage another.
Oh believe me, I’m not a saint like that. Pushing aside your own feelings to listen to someone else’s story takes some doing. But sometimes you have to relent and face the fact that everything in life is not about you. Focusing on your pain cripples you. Well maybe not you, but it does that to me. I find that I become a bit of a whiner and not the warrior I’m meant to be.
None of us are exempted from pain. It can sneak up on us or at times we can see it coming, but there’s no avoiding it. It’s also not something we all manage to overcome. Pain changes us and the only way out is to go through it. No shortcuts. We cannot grow without experiencing some discomfort. Unless off course you have a magic formula, in which case I’m gonna have to insist that you share it with me asap.
Long story short, I am in pain. I have however discovered that my word of the year holds so much more promise. When I decided on the word, I also made it my mission that this year it will be Less of me and more about Jesus. This may not have been what I anticipated. Believe me when I say that our circumstances are less than ideal. It sucks. But when I stop to count our blessings and pause for long enough, I can actually smell the roses. My purpose has been there all along. I just needed a bit of power behind it. Another experience to add to my arsenal of encouragement. Because that is my purpose. Also the reason for all these words.
You see, we are as tough as the last battle we faced. It’s easy to forget some circumstances when we’ve overcome it. We remember the lessons yes, but it’s easy to forget the details as we put it behind us. But how many of us are living and enjoying what we’ve prayed for. It’s proof that nothing lasts forever. Not even bad situations.
So today I’d like to remind you and encourage you that whatever your difficult situation, things always have a way of getting worse before it gets better. Hold on. It’s so easy to focus on your pain. But don’t. Try whatever you can to shift your focus. Count your blessings. Find things to be grateful for. When it seems like there’s no way out, STOP or slow down. Don’t think about tomorrow or any other future day or date. Live for the moment. Embrace the here and now. Anything further than today will overwhelm you.
I’m sure we’re all clear that I believe in God. I serve an amazing God that is allowing a bit of pressure in my life. I may not particularly enjoy it but I know that sometime in the near future this will seem inconsequential. This may not be the same for you. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to forcefeed you religion. What I am suggesting is that you hold onto your belief. The belief that assures you that your breakthrough is near. All you have to do is not give up. Never give up.
A few days ago I may have asked if there’s purpose to pain. I may have felt hopeless and lost a bit of faith along the way. But I’ve found renewed purpose for my pain. I am the purpose. I’m still standing. Sharing bits of my journey so you too can find some peace in your situation. Because peace is attainable. It’s within your power to create that peace for yourself.