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Last January I became aware of a movement called One Word 365. For those who haven't heard about it, the idea is that instead of making New Year's resolutions, you choose one word to guide your thoughts and goals for the year. I liked the simplicity of this idea. I didn't have a mystical word-choosing experience like many of the other participants, but I decided on Focus as my word for 2013. I'd been spreading my energies too thin for too long, and I wanted to become more intentional, to be more fully present in fewer things instead of scattering myself to the wind. I also wanted to get more serious about my writing. Well, Focus wasn't an unmitigated success, but it wasn't a failure either. Although it may not be obvious from the outside, I do feel more focused than I did a year ago and I've made some audacious (to me) investments in my own development. It's a long road, and I'm a few more miles down it, and that's the important thing.
One night right before the holidays, I was feeling discouraged and restless about a whole soup of things. I wasn't praying so much as thinking in God's general direction (which constitutes much of my "prayer life" lately). My thoughts concluded in an increasingly familiar place – that it seems so much easier to shut off and remain aloof from life rather than to feel and engage and be fully alive. At that moment, I knew that Alive was my word for 2014. It had that sense of rightness that eluded me before.
I'm ready to explore what it means to be fully alive in every sense. Here's what I already know: being fully alive is messy and painful. It means you can't just close the door on wounds and disappointments. It means accepting the lows with the highs, and the full spectrum being enhanced as a result. It means honesty, courage, and the knowledge that not everyone will approve of you. It means openness to the unexpected. It's about expanding and occupying space in the world.
I spent my first 28 years of life shrinking smaller and smaller, trying to take up as little space as possible. I thought that was my job as a Christian and as a woman. Thank God, I was wrong. But the more alive I've become, the more I've realized that being alive is really hard. The path I'm currently called to, the internal and external battles I have to fight daily, are just plain hard (and this is the case for everyone). Sometimes I get weary and give up. Then I wonder why I feel cold and disconnected from God, others, and even myself.
So I'm going to be thinking, praying, and writing about Alive throughout 2014. Although it won't always be fun, I'm excited because it's such a rich topic. I even created a Pinterest board. I can think of no better way to conclude than with this song from the Buffy musical masterpiece Once More With Feeling, which has described my emotional state many times since it first aired:
I don't want to be going through the motions, losing all my drive.
I can't even see if this is really me.
And I just want to be alive.