Spiritual Growth

When You Are Brave Enough to Choose Love


Once again the “One Word” frenzy is upon us as a new year rolls in.  You hear the buzz: “Have you picked a word for 2015?” and maybe you have chosen a word or maybe you just aren’t the word-picking type.  For most of my adult years I’ve been asking God to give me a Bible verse each year which He wants to work out in my heart and life.   I start in mid-December or sometimes much sooner and I pray and ponder different verses.  I know any one of them would be great, but I wait until one hits me just right.  Once this “One Word” thing started gaining momentum, I decided to tag that onto my verse for the year so now I ask God for a word to connect with my verse.  

This year I considered several dozen words. I thought about “confide” and “trust” and “rest” and “simplify” and “gentleness” – all of those would have done well – but then this word floated up to the top. I prayed for a verse and I sensed deeply God calling me to know His love and reflect it wherever I go – through the trust, rest, simplicity and gentleness that I find when I confide and abide in Him.
Then I found the verse: Eph 3:17-19 

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

So I set off with a vision and intention to love well … and then real life set in.  You know, the life where people we live with are grumpy and suddenly love isn’t as rosy and idyllic as it seemed it would be.
It was then that I realized {once again} that this “One Word” stuff seems catchy, but it is not for the faint of heart.  If we pick a word, laden with meaning, and really long for God to bring its reality in our lives and hearts, we have to know there will be growth involved – and where there is growth, there are the inevitable growing pains.  
This Sunday our pastor said, “Christianity is a comforting religion, but it isn’t always comfortable.”  
Yeah, baby.  
I don’t want to shirk back from this word: Love.  I want to embrace it and that means I’m going to have to roll my sleeves up and be willing to hurt.  Like today, when my teen son {ay yi yi, when did it happen that I have a teen?} got upset that his workload for homeschool is “way too big” and decided to consume about a cumulative four hours of our day with a variety of pouting, bucking the system and just plain old fashioned grumpiness.  I rode it out like one of those people at the fair hanging on for dear life to the bronco ride.  Truly.  At intervals throughout the day he would repent and show maturity and say he was wrong and try his hardest, but then he would start up again.  I get it.  None of us want to come back to hard work after some sweet time off.  Still, the roller coaster ride just about did me in.  Which is probably why the sight of my darling husband coming in the door at the end of his hard day brought every suppressed frustration in my soul up to the surface and I threw a tantrum of my own about how hard the day was and how much I had lived through and how I just can’t juggle it all.  
It occurred to me in the midst of my little meltdown that I wasn’t quite fulfilling my vision of “love.”  It’s true I hadn’t blown up at my son as I was more prone to do under stress in years gone by, but all the end-of-the-day rant proved was I have miles to go in terms of growing into love.  And that’s okay.  We don’t get to start anywhere but right where we are and God knows that better than we do.  This learning to love thing (whether it’s your word for the year or not) is really a journey and God is aware of what we bring to the party.  He’s just glad we accepted the invitation and He’s got a plan to soften the rougher edges as we go. 
It takes courage to pick a word – if you really mean it.  If you really, really crave the Lord and His goodness like I do then you go forward, brave like the heroes listed in Hebrews, but raw like the real people God exposes all throughout His word and history.  We’re all just clay footed people longing for the goodness of God and stepping out brave into new years with a hope that maybe, just maybe we can be a bit more like the words we choose.  
Growing in love might not be so pretty after all.  But, I’m not giving up.  I’m going to hang in with my amazing son when he is feeling and expressing what I am not willing to say – “I just don’t want to go back to school yet and I miss break!”  I am going to hang in with myself when I come unraveled at the wrong time and unload on my dear unsuspecting husband as he walks in the door.  I’m going to go back and retread the paths to those hearts that mean the most to me – to say “I’m sorry” and to patch up broken places.  I’m going to rest in the love God has for me and learn even more what it means to abide as a broken, imperfect, seeking sinner-saint, daily needing Him if I’m ever going to reflect Him at all.  
Each attempt to love shows me more and more what it means to depend upon Him.  It’s easy to plan to love in those misty moments of vision where all goes well and Mother Teresa’s got nothing on me.   It’s the going out from those private moments into real life with real people that makes the difference.   When the rubber hits the road, love gets dirty and learning to love means deeply trusting God afresh and leaning into Him more and more.  
It’s not sappy and it’s not as easy as it might seem, but one thing it won’t be is boring or fruitless.  God is in favor of love and through this year He will make me into a better lover and one who receives love better and more fully than I do today.  Of that I’m sure.  Growth always starts from the point where we realize how far we have to go.  Stepping out from there is simply brave.  So I’m going to be brave enough to choose love. 
What’s your word or longing for the coming year?  I sure would love to hear. 
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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Barbie
    January 6, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    Love is such a great word to cling to, and the scripture you chose is a favorite of mine. I know that God has love to work out in my own heart. I'm already feeling the "sting" of my word, which is content. I know that I know that the Lord has so many things to teach me about contentment, but lately, I've been having a pity party over here. I was excited to see your post come through my FB wall this morning. Have a blessed week!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    January 6, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    Sweet Barbie! One fun thing about "being away" for a few weeks is the welcome back from friends like you. Another blogger said "I missed you" to me this morning on G+ and that was so sweet. Sometimes we wonder if the drops of water we add to the ocean of words really matter to even one heart out there. I'm glad mine matter to YOU. Content is a perfect word for you for this year. I'm so glad to know about it so that when I pray for you I can pray for you to find your contentment in Him alone despite the whirling (or beautiful) circumstances around you. Thanks for cheering me on. You are a treasure.

  • Reply
    Paola Collazo
    January 6, 2015 at 3:19 PM

    My Dear Patty, I just read this now that I had some time before cooking. You are more than a drop of water. What you share of yourself is a glass of water somedays for my thirsty soul. I am new to social media so this one word thing is new to me. I honestly feel like I need a whole dictionary, not just one word, and definetly not just one tinnie tiny year but an eternity. I get the point and the meaning, I have been working LOVE for the past 7 years…

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    January 6, 2015 at 3:34 PM

    Paola, you bless me so much. I think the truest place is knowing our need – not cloaking it in perfectionism or appearances. I am praying right now the Eph verse over you. Thank you so much for sharing here.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    January 6, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Thanks, Elizabeth – for so much. I love you right back … Let me know which of those words bubbles up over the other of you will. I'd love to pray it for you as I pray for you.

  • Reply
    Laurel Regan
    January 11, 2015 at 2:02 PM

    I appreciate what you say about choosing a word not being for the faint of heart. It is truly a challenge, and something to work on living up to for the entire year (and beyond). Thank you for sharing your word and thoughts, and I wish you a love-filled 2015. 🙂

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    January 11, 2015 at 4:15 PM

    Laurel,
    Thanks so much! I sure appreciate your encouragement and understanding. Come back to Hearts Homeward any time. I hope you found some food for your own soul here.
    ~ Patty

  • Reply
    A Father’s Love – Hearts Homeward
    February 14, 2016 at 4:25 PM

    […] That was my word for this year.  I prayed over it and chose it carefully.  I blogged about it as so many bloggers do when they find their word for the year.  Then I found myself missing […]

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