Back in January, when goal-setting and resolution-making were running rampant on the streets of Everywhere, I saw several posts, on blogs and Facebook/Twitter, about choosing a "word of the year." I saw several, from "peace" to "determination" to "inspired." I didn't do a whole lot of looking into it, so I'm not sure how the word was chosen. Maybe it was like a computer-generated thing where you take a quiz and it gives you the word. (Ha... I'd love to see what method would give me. "Cookies," probably.) Or perhaps it was like a bingo chart and you had to place game pieces on certain squares and it would spit out something inspirational.
Again, I'm not super familiar with the whole process. But even though I didn't jump on the WOTY (see what I did there?) bandwagon back in January, one did spring to my mind back then when I was catching other's words. Immediately, I thought of contentment. Now, I know that that doesn't sound terribly exciting, but, news flash: I'm not a terribly exciting person. (Case in point- I walked in the door from school today and took a three hour nap. Top that, boring people!) Anyway, this past year I've experienced a whole new world (a new fantastic point of view... not even going to apologize for going there) with moving, teaching middle school, and taking on some pretty big challenges personally (like writing a play). So, when I say contentment, I guess I mean being okay with life, as it happens.
That doesn't mean that I'm approaching life all Doris-Day style (Que Sera, Sera!) but the longer I serve in ministry... really, the longer I live, I realize that there is a fairly large portion of life that I can't control. I can't control what other people do, say, or think... and I need to stop trying. I don't want to be a reactive person, but just comfortable enough in myself and what I believe to be content to let other people be who they are. I told my third-graders all the time last year, "You're only in charge of yourself." (Funny how the rules we give kids are usually just as applicable, if not more so, to us as adults.) Anyway, I want to be content in the fact that everyone isn't just like me, I'm certainly not just like anyone else, and somehow that's okay in the grand scheme of things.
Also, I want to be content with where I am (and I don't mean geographically.) Everyone says that you always wish to be in the next stage of life, starting when you're just a kid. You know- the fifth grader wants to be in junior high (why I'll never know!), the 8th grader is longing for high school, the high school senior longs for college, and the college student is probably napping and doesn't know what he wants. Dating couples want to be engaged, engaged couples want to be married, and married couples want kids (maybe... maybe not.) Couples with kids want them to leave the nest, and couples with an empty nest want grandkids. (This is the normal progression of life, is it not? Close, anyway.)
So, I'm talking about being content with where I am right now. Do I have plans for the future? Yes, I want to have kids. Yes, I'm teaching now (which I love) but someday hope to be writing quite a bit more. And, like everyone in the world, I have things I'm not 100% "okay" with (duh...) but I want to be content with my life as it is. Things will never be just like they are right now, and in a few years when I'm juggling screaming kids, or (!!!) maybe do have the opportunity to write more and am staring a deadline in the face, I'll look back to my quiet little evenings as a teacher and probably have to remind myself to be content THEN.
But why should I be content? I mean, sure... I should be content because I have it really good, and because lots of people would kill it have a life as full and wonderful as mine. I'm not even talking about just counting my blessings- that's a completely different topic. (Sorry this is like book-length, but I'm almost done.) But ultimately, I have problems just like everyone else and it's easy to wish my life away. So, why do what I do and stay content despite difficulties or even little frustrations?
The other night we went to a service at a nearby church where one of my favorite preachers/people was speaking. (By the way, the pastor of the church, turns out, is a fan of the blog and that cracks me up... makes me feel good too, since he's one of the funniest people I know.) But, Heath preached about how everything we do should bring glory to God. If we do it for people or recognition, it will get old really quickly. Why? Well, people can be difficult. (I am one of those people!) People let you down. Recognition is certainly not guaranteed nor should it even be expected often. But if we live and work and serve for God, we can't be disappointed. Why? Because He doesn't let us down, His rewards are always better than anything we could imagine, and we can never out-give or out-serve Him when reminded of all He's done for us. Others may not understand that, but it's the best way to be.
So, my word is contentment. I want to be content with my life- eager to embrace new things and improve myself, but content with what I know the Lord has for me to do and be. Although, I could certainly see myself extending this in some dangerous ways... The house is dirty! "Contentment!" I haven't started dinner! "Nah, I'm content!" Okay, just kidding... I'll confine myself to applying only in good ways, promise. And I'm aware that I'm choosing my word of the year in March. I bet the people who picked their words in January have already forgotten them, so really I'm just ahead of the game. Yes, that's an excuse... And I'm content with that. =)
P.S. Do you have a word for the year? I'd love to hear about it (especially if you're just now choosing one, like me!)