While it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we are about to say goodbye to another year, I am convinced that time begins to move at warp speed the older we get. I have always found it an interesting phenomenon that days that sometimes seem to take SO long actually move so fast when you string them all together.
Since the end of a year can cause one to do some introspection about the highlights and lowlights of the year, I have found myself pondering all that transpired the last 363 days of my life. This year was amazing, fun, overwhelming, heart-wrenching and worthy of much thanksgiving all at the same time. No wonder I am tired these days! That's a lot of emotion to experience in such a relatively short span of time.
I am a part of an online community and one thing we do every year is prayerfully consider a word that we hope to help define our coming year. I felt very strongly last December that my word was to be INTENTIONAL. Little did I know how necessary that word would prove to be as the days wore on.
If you know me very well or have ever read my blog, you know that after 21 years in full-time sports ministry Tim took a job as lead pastor for a local church with his first official day being January 1, 2011. The date was really my idea since I do the taxes and a clean end-of-the-year transition was sure to make the paperwork less cumbersome, but I digress!
It is a fairly large church and has a lot of amazing people who make it up. One thing that people who know us well have always commented on was the large number of relationships that we have had to maintain. While that is actually a wonderful problem to have, it can be wearying at times. We had a couple stay with us once who said they were exhausted after just a few days seeing how many people we interact with on a daily basis. Well, add to these numerous relationships about 1,100 new church folk and there were days that I didn't even want to get out of bed. My introverted ways were being wrenched slowly away from me and I was finding it necessary to step tentatively and surely outside of my comfort zone.
In order to merely survive, I had to learn to be intentional. I had to be intentional at home with my family and with my home-schooling and home-keeping duties. I had to learn to be intentional in getting to know the people we were now providing leadership for and simply learning their names and their stories. (I was excited one Wednesday night early in the year when I realized I could actually name a whole row of people!) I had to learn to be intentional when I chose what to be involved in at church and in the community and I even had to learn to be intentional with my free time.
As always, Papa was reminding me that His ability to see ahead to the things I could not see was the reason the word I felt impressed to claim as my own seemed to fit so perfectly. There were days when I felt an exhilaration and excitement about our lives that I have never felt before and then, almost simultaneously, there were days that I would cry for no apparent reason other than the fact that I felt grossly overmatched. That was usually when He gently whispered in my ear and reminded me that without intentionality and a purposeful and willful focus on Him and His Word I would surely not survive the journey.
One thing that I think the Lord has instilled in me thru this choice to live intentionally is the fact that without the relationships we have worked to build the words we speak are merely just that...words. The saying that people don't care how much you know til they know how much you care has been lived out in a very obvious way this year before us. We have been reminded that everyone has a story to tell and it is in the sharing of that story and the way it is tenderly handled by the hearer that relationship and trust is built. It is the difference in being an uninvolved story-teller or a come-alongside story-weaver who helps to tie the threads of experience and divine providence together in the lives of those who have been placed within our care.
While the journey is infant in its progression, there is peace in knowing that the intentional way we have tried to approach it has helped to lay a strong foundation on which to build in the years to come. We are not naive enough to think that the road ahead will be free of bumps and bruises. Some of the deepest heartache comes from wounds inflicted by those in whom we have concentrated our most sincere efforts...yet we continue to invest in an intentional way.
So as I look back on 2011 laid bare for me to see from start to finish, it prompts me to look forward to 2012 and the promise it is wrapped in. I am unsure of my word for 2012, but know there will be a purpose to it beyond what my finite mind can comprehend and that the truth of living intentionally will continue to be woven into the fabric of my life in the days to come.
Thank You, Lord, for the intentional way you deal with me every day and for the way you have shown me the need to be intentional in all I do. I thank You for the amazing journey you have us on and the amazing people You have chosen as our traveling companions. May we, when it is all said and done, be been found faithful with all you have entrusted us!