in lieu of new year’s resolutions (and to show support and solidarity with the #oneword365 movement), i’ve spent the last several januarys of my life carefully choosing a word that i hope will shape the coming year. this is perfect for me for a couple different reasons:
a) it doesn’t lock me into anything. selecting a word over a resolution is open-ended. it leaves room for mistakes and loose ends, and it allows the year to unfold on its own, taking on whatever shape and form it wants to.
and b) i love words. seriously. LOVE THEM. anyone who knows me knows they are my truest love language. i eat them up hungrily, as if they’re a starving man’s bread. i hold them carefully within me, knowing they hold weight and power and beauty and meaning, and that one must always be careful with sacred things. “words are pale shadows of forgotten names. as names have power, words have power. words can light fires in the minds of men. words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” (patrick rothfuss, the name of the wind)
words are more than just words, if they’re used correctly.
so for the past few years, it’s been nothing but words for me. 2012 was ‘forgive’. 2013, ‘grace’. and last year, amidst all my broken pieces, i chose ‘whole’. it was a prayer, of sorts, a prophecy to the dry bones of my heart and mind. i wanted to be made whole, and i believed 2014 was the year for it. over those 365 days, i saw my word take on flesh, take on a life of its own, weaving itself into both the minuteness of my day-to-day and the incredible bigness of all the life changes i went through during that time.
like i said: words are more than just words.
this year my word came to me early on, birthed out of the transitions and growing pains of the past several months. i caught a glimpse of it as i walked away from liberia this summer, closing the door fully and finally on nearly half a decade of missions and ministry among the poor and the orphan. i felt twinges of it as i unpacked suitcases and rearranged furniture and struggled with re-entry before i could learn to settle in. i sensed it when i took a job sixty miles away, when i first stepped foot in my new apartment, and when i realized all it takes is one person, one extraordinary person, to make you feel like you matter, like you belong, like you fit and have a place in this big, crazy world.
my word for 2015 is home.
home has always been little more than a concept for me, possibly because i’ve never had it for very long before it would slip through my fingers. we moved around a lot when i was a kid, which is probably why i still struggle with change even to this day. and inside the four walls of whichever house we happened to be living in at the time was a family struggling with addictions and abuses, all of which left me with a feeling of insecurity and unsafe-ness that somehow haunted me well into my adult life.
home: any place of residence or refuge.
home: the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
home is what i longed for the most, but it was always just out of reach. even when i thought it was closest, i could never quite get there. home seemed elusive, something of a pipe dream, and i spent my days feeling like an ancient israelite, banished to a perpetual desert of exile and tent-living.
i was born in the north, and i migrated south the first chance i got.
i lived on the east coast, and i decided to try the west coast to see what i was missing.
i crossed an ocean, and i found myself in a tiny african nation next to the sea.
i wandered my way through many, many places, and yet my heart was always aching to go home.
until one day, i saw–that i’m already there. it’s not a location or an address; it’s not something i can tangibly point to on a map. it’s not a roof or a picket fence, not a front door or a back yard.
it’s here, now, in the place where i find myself, with the people i fill my days with. it’s where i break bread and celebrate and pray and share and have conversations that matter and open up and create safe spaces and learn from my mistakes and swallow my pride and dream about the future and do life, one blessed day at a time.
“happiness, not in another place, but in this place, not for another hour, but this hour.” (walt whitman)
and with that, let me say: