If you've talked to me in person in the last year, you've probably heard me rave about this album and this book at some point. But the song "Thrive" in particular has been one that we've had on repeat in our house for months. Every time I hear the words, I'm encouraged or convicted (or both!) and I thought the word thrive would be perfect for this year.
After a year of change, lots of ups and downs, and finally a brand new direction for our ministry, I felt like my word needed to reflect my desire to do more than just survive (which I stole from the song, actually.) 2014 was a great year, but I feel like I spent the majority of it with my head barely above water. But God wants so much more for us than that- He wants us to THRIVE. And on the precipice of another year full of change (but in a different, better way, I think) I wanted a word that would remind me to live as richly and fully as possible. Thrive means, "to grow or develop well or vigorously; flourish, prosper." That' exactly what I want to characterize this year- vigorous growth and development in every area.
And (even though I started this post last week) I have felt even more sure about choosing "thrive" after the events of the past few days. On Saturday, we went to my cousin Bethany's funeral. I hate that I wasn't able to know her very well, but after the service I felt like I did. She was so loved, so vibrant, so excited about serving God, that even though it was a heartbreaking day, I left feeling inspired by her life and wanting that feeling to impact me more profoundly than just a fleeting emotion. Through the testimonies of many people, it's become obvious that Bethany thrived... as a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, and Christian. She thrived when ministry took her to foreign countries and she thrived when it meant uprooting herself (more than once) from the familiar. I think that Bethany's legacy will influence many people in many different ways, but this word is the way it's influenced me. I want to thrive just like she did.
Life is so busy, so crazy, so full of unexpected problems, and so exhausting sometimes that it's easy to go and go and go to the point of survival. Running on empty is not only possible but it's probably the state I'm in more often than I care to admit. In the last few years I've seen friends who seem to really be thriving in their ministries or jobs and thought, "Why don't I feel that way? I love what I do but I don't feel like I'm bounding out of bed every day ready to do it." Of course, no one will feel that way every day, but if I'm having more "surviving" days than "thriving" days, there's a problem. God's people should be the happiest and healthiest (spiritually speaking) people on the planet.
I've seen evidence of this in my own family members this week; even in the midst of unbelievable sorrow and grief, they have been able to smile and praise God. Why? Because "we sorrow not as those who have no hope"! Thriving doesn't depend on our own emotions or even our view of our circumstances. John Piper said, "My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God's Word defines truth." As we were reminded at Bethany's service, things are not always what they seem! God's plans are always perfect, even when they're different than our own, and resting in that environment of sovereignty creates a much more healthy atmosphere for thriving than our own flawed agenda.
So, in 2015, on the precipice of a year full of transition, new beginnings, and even a change of address, I want to thrive- grow, develop, flourish, and prosper- like never before.
"We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives; it's time for us to more than just survive... we were made to thrive."
What's your word of the year?