I am taking part in the #oneword365 project. You choose a word or more accurately, a word chooses you, to guide you throughout the year, rather than making resolutions. Sarah Bessey introduced me to #oneword365 through her blog. As she says, the word you keep coming back to, that’s your word for the New Year, and it’s usually the one you least want it to be.
Last year my word was “committed”. I have written and read more than I did in previous years and have definitely said “no” more, although I am still learning to pause, and probably always will be. In August I found Louise Parker and her Lean for Life method and after several years of trying and failing to shift an extra 10lbs I was carrying I did it in 8 weeks and have kept it off as it is a lifestyle change, not a diet. More about that here, if you’re interested.
I was committed to listening and praying to God about my calling throughout the year, asking for help and guidance about this career change I feel called to and the studying required. After an intense application process I got in! I start the part time counselling course in two weeks! I am so thrilled about this opportunity and everything it brings with it; learning new things, doing something I feel passionate about and which genuinely excites me.
I will have a lot of change this year. I am going back to college at the age of 31 (and a half) to learn about something that I hope and pray I will eventually do as a full time career. I have to leave my current career. I have to actually give up my, secure, relatively well paid job, for uncertainty, as there is no alternative currently on the horizon. I will still need to work full time – there are bills to pay! This feels like a huge leap of faith, particularly with a wedding to plan and pay for in September.
I will be relying on my support network in the next two and half years a lot more than I have before. I will be taking a backseat in the breadwinning department, relying on my incredibly supportive fiancé to be responsible for paying the majority of our mortgage and bills. I will be requiring emotional support from him and my family and friends who I simply won’t be able to see as much.
I am usually the “helper” the “giver”. I do not like to impose myself, my needs on others. I do not want to be a burden. For a while I was insisting that I could do it all: I could continue in my current demanding job (50+ hour weeks, no breaks, commute time and evening, weekend and holiday email checking – not boasting, believe me I wish it were different) and study every Saturday and complete the assignments. All so that I could still pay my way on a 50/50 basis and contribute equally to the wedding.
My fiancé and my friends were insistent that I was being deluded, something would have to give and it shouldn’t be my dream. Eventually, I have become more accepting that I will need help, that it is okay to rely on others. Isn’t that what I’ll be learning about anyway? That if it’s okay for others to ask for help, for assistance, then it’s also okay for me to do so – it shows some arrogance really to think I am different or better than others.
Brene Brown so succinctly says:
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help”.
My word for 2017 is – BRAVE and I really didn’t want it to be. I wanted it to be something profound like, I don’t know, “transformation” something that implied this would be my best year yet and was going to be wonderful. A year of great change and personal growth that I sailed through with aplomb, perfectly juggling all the balls and never dropping one.
It will be, but let’s face it, there will be plenty of tears and times when it’s really hard and I’m really tired and money is tight and I can’t go out for nice dinners and I miss out on time with friends because I have to study or work. When I was honest with myself about the coming year I realised that although I am excited I am also terrified. I have kept coming back to something Aslan says:
“Courage, dear heart”.
Bravery. Brave enough to quit my job, brave enough to trust that it will work out, brave enough to go back to studying and get the most out of it, brave enough to rely on everyone and brave enough to say “no” and brave enough to be selfish with my precious time.
What does it look like for you? Maybe you need to be brave enough to set aside time for yourself? To take a break? To start that hobby you’ve always dreamed of or to take the trip of a lifetime or just to travel somewhere by yourself? It’s a new year, full of opportunities to make a change, to do something different.
Doing something different doesn’t have to be a big thing though. It can be choosing to be kind, or to keep your temper when you would normally lose it, choosing to not to beat yourself up when you (inevitably) drop some of the balls or just plain old cock it all up. When that happens you then need to be brave enough to start all over again or admit that you might need to stop and re start doing something completely different.
Sarah Bessey (I love her, in case you haven’t guessed)* wrote this amazing post which I come back to whenever I lose a bit of my nerve about pursuing this calling. She says:
“If teaching or preaching or writing or managing or leading or painting or film-making or delivering babies or studying astro-physics or whatever it is makes you feel more whole, then darling, do it all to the glory of God and you’ll see the way it makes you come alive will stain your entire life with joy…It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be seamless and easy. It doesn’t have to come together without struggle. In fact, I can pretty much promise you that it’s going to be hard at times to create the room for your calling to be lived out. But it will be worth it. Because if it makes you feel alive, if it’s what God gifted and called and created you to do right along with everything else in your life, then we all need you to do it and also you need to do it”.
So, brave it is and brave it will be.
* I was lucky enough to meet Sarah in person at the Woman to Woman Conference in London in October 2015. After she had preached I queued up to get her to sign my copies of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts. We had spoken over a Facebook a few times and I totally fangirled, crying as soon as it got to my turn in line. Sarah was gracious and lovely and took it all in her stride. I realised later that I hadn’t even introduced myself and had been carrying on like she knew who I was. I emailed her to apologise and introduce myself and as ever, she was so polite and kind. I am still mortified.