*No, I will not be writing romance novels this year. Sorry if that disappoints. LOL. I'm not talking about that kind of passion.*
In 2016 I jumped on the word-for-the-year bandwagon. I had seen others do this each January for years. I had always been impressed and inspired by their "words" but had never really thought to find my own. I don't know why. Maybe it seemed daunting to try and define a whole year by one word. Maybe it felt limiting. Maybe I was just too lazy.
I can't even say I spent focused energy on coming up with that first word for 2016. (That's ironic considering the word was purpose and the whole year was about being more intentional.) Sometime in December 2015 I was doing my normal devotion and prayer time and it just popped into my head, a year on purpose. At the time I wasn't quite sure what it would entail or how it would all play out for me but as 2016 drew to a close I knew it had been the most fitting word.
In 2016 I wrote blog posts about being intentional in various areas of our lives and I worked to implement those strategies in my own. I believe in intentionality, it's a deeper kind of stewardship, one that goes beyond just finances and into time and energy. My year on purpose became about learning to live for my God-given purpose in every area of my life. Whether it was my marriage, as a mom, or in ministry and writing, I learned how to focus and set goals. God also began to take all the pieces of the puzzle of my purpose and put them together. This was the year that I saw clearly the picture of my calling (youth ministry and writing fiction) and how it all fit together (#LiveChosen) when I couldn't see it before. It was a breakthrough for me and I am still grateful for how God showed me His hand and work to get me where I am now starting years ago.
Sometime in December 2016 I still wasn't looking for a word of the year but one popped up just the same. 2017 became a year of promise. Honestly I had a harder time with this one from the beginning. It sounds cool to think about God's promises being fulfilled but it's not so easy. It took patience. It took fighting through fear. It took sacrifice and more than a few tears. Before any light could be seen at the end of the tunnel there was a lot of darkness and doubt. A year that started with hope would find me desperately clinging to it and barely succeeding more than once. But God is faithful and you'll have to wait for me to share details on all that. Just know that there are cracks in the dam. (I'll explain that later but it's a good thing. I promise.)
Sometime this past December I still wasn't trying to think of a new word for the year and yet one just popped in. (Do you sense a pattern here?) Passion. That's my word for 2018 and I am still figuring out what that means. Aside from all the words starting with the letter P I get the impression that they all tie together in a million tiny ways that I may never fully comprehend but I am excited at the prospect.
So what is passion? The dictionary defines it, amongst other things, as, "strong and barely controllable emotion, and an intense desire and enthusiasm for something." It is also a word used to identify the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus.
What does all that mean for me? Purpose and passion are connected. Corie Clark said, "When passion and purpose collide you find yourself walking in your God-given destiny." I have been walking in my purpose but more times than I would like to admit I feel like my passion has waned. I get tired. I get distracted. I procrastinate. I make excuses. I don't push myself. 2018 is about pushing myself again. But not just in a direction, but in the right direction.
For me this means getting back to some weekly writing goals so that I can finish two books this year. (At least first drafts, maybe more.) This means taking care of myself so that I can have the energy to do the things I need to do. This means fighting anxiety so it doesn't stop me from enjoying the opportunities God provides. In a lot of ways this means getting back to intentionality where I have let it falter and taking charge of my time again. I don't want to let days slip by and wonder what I did with them. Promises aren't fulfilled if I stop doing my part to reach them.
The other side of the passion coin for me is all about me and Jesus. It's funny how God works things out. My church has a word for 2018 too. It's ACTION. It's about doing what God has for us to do. It's about making choices that get us where God wants us to go. It also means centering everything around Jesus. Our key verse for the year is...
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
1 Corinthians 2:2 NIV
This ties so perfectly with my year of passion. Not because I haven't been trying to live a life centered on Jesus but because I want, and need, to take it to the next level. If I want my life, my marriage, my parenting, my ministry, my writing to all go to the next level it begins with my relationship with Jesus.
C.S. Lewis said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." In order to see all the parts of my life through the lens of Jesus I have to do the personal work of knowing him more, of going even deeper in relationship with Him. I want my passion for Him to extend and expand. I want it to lead me and not the other way around.
What are you passionate about or want to be more passionate about in 2018? Do you have a word of the year? Share in the comments and let's cheer each other on.