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At the beginning of 2016, I felt like I was ready for forward momentum. For growth, for change. Now 2017 is upon me and I find myself asking this question:
How do you measure growth?
I didn’t write much about #growingrace2016. (What I DID write, you can read here.)
I think that often, when we think about growth, we look for the things we can see. Upward growth. Measurable change. Yet we forget that for every inch a tree gains, every branch that grows, every new leaf…there’s just as much happening under the soil.
That’s what 2016 was for me.
My tree may look pretty much the same. A year older, a year thicker. (I’m looking at you…10 pesky pounds that I’ve added!)
But underneath, the roots are deeper and stronger. A lot of change happened in how I carry life within me, and what my life means.
I grew when I started Bible journaling and scripture coloring – my feeble, yet important, attempt to make more of a place for God in my life.
I grew when we applied for church membership – even though I was scared to. When I got involved in the music program there. When I shared my testimony with my (new) brothers and sisters. When I put down roots there, in spite of my fears, my mess, and my spiritual baggage.
I grew when I struggled with a violent child and angry husband…and realized that maybe, just maybe, we didn’t need more help. We just needed each other. When I made a promise to cultivate love for them. When I embraced the mantra, “Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through hell with you.”
I grew when we reached a point where we knew that sometimes, “cultivating love” isn’t enough. When we reached out for help through intensive in home therapy services for our son. When we welcomed a team of three people, none of whom I’m was super-comfortable with, into our home five days a week so we could learn how to manage our child.
I grew when I went to the doctor for a UTI but found myself writing “I want to talk about anxiety medication,” on that white piece of paper on the clipboard…when I embraced relief in the form of a tiny green pill.
I grew when I embraced self care by quitting cloth diapering, throwing out my houseplants, and switching my 8-month-old baby over to formula-feeding.
I grew when I applied to go back to school, and started summer classes – even though I was unsure if I was capable of handling special needs parenting and motherhood at the same time. (It turns out, I could!)
I grew when I tried a new diet, and it failed me. I grew when I got my butt to a GI doctor, begged for a colonoscopy, and finally had a doctor put me on IBS meds so I can eat a normal diet after four years of every elimination diet under the sun.
I grew when I challenged a lot of ideals I used to hold dear. When I quit going to the chiropractor. When I embraced being a social hermit because, sometimes, a introvert’s gotta do what an introvert’s gotta do, without any guilt.
I grew when the election took over my Facebook feed. When some ill-time comments got me blocked by people I cared about. When I was the one doing the blocking and when I deactivated my Facebook account temporarily. When I was lied about by a “friend” and fellow blogger on Twitter who tweeted without understanding the facts. When I went back to Facebook and chopped my friend’s list down to 60 people – because I just couldn’t handle the noise and drama and just needed space, even when I knew people wouldn’t understand.
I grew when, after giving myself that space I needed, I entered the holiday season much more willing to let people in: to apologize for the things I had said and done wrong, to reach back out in relationships that had spent the last few years being strained, to click the “add friend” button over and over and over again without trembling about what that would mean for me.
I grew when I laid in the back of a rented mini-van and prayed for healing in relationships within my immediate family as we gathered for Thanksgiving. I grew when I saw God answer that prayer.
I grew when I asked a close friend from my church to disciple me this coming year.
I grew when I realized I’m no longer a martyr. I’m no longer broken. I no longer have to be angry and wounded all of the time.
I let my roots grow deep and settle me into a beautiful place.
In 2017 I turn 30.
I want to lose 30 pounds. (Perhaps you’ve noticed my excessive use of the #turn30lose30 hashtag?)
Honestly, I’m not completely sure what I’m doing or how I’m going to do that. And I was all ready to jump on trains like Trim Healthy Mama or exercising-my-brains-out. I was prepared to WORK HARDER THAN I’VE EVER WORKED IN MY LIFE. And then, I stumbled on this Facebook page that made me do a 180 in my thinking…and gave me my word for 2017.
I’ve copied these words (and others) down and put them into my new fitness journal. I have been mulling and meditating over this word nourish over the last 48 hours and can already feel this word pulling me in.
Nourish: my one word for 2017
In 2017, I want to continue to grow. But rather than focusing on growth and change, I want to focus on nourishing the parts of me that desperately need that changing.
So when I sit down with the Bible, sit down for a discipleship meeting, or sit in the pew at church – rather than being overcome with guilt, shame, or struggle…to breathe it in and let it nourish the places in me that are thirsty for God.
So when I log in to Facebook or pick up the phone, I am pouring into my relationships by seeking to nourish them – regardless of how messy they are.
So when I look into the eyes of my beautiful boys, rather than asking myself, “How can I strive to be a better mom today?” I can ask myself, “How can I nourish my relationship with them?”
So when I’m overwhelmed with the intricacies of being married to an extrovert and just want to shut the world out, I can remind myself that my marriage still needs nourished.
So when I’m working hard on the treadmill or elliptical, rather than punishing or striving, I can visualize how the exercise is nourishing and strengthening me.
Nourish is not about checking boxes. Nourish is not about perfection. Nourish is not about striving, goal-setting, or resolutions.
Nourish is about watering that which is thirsty. Feeding that which is hungry. Loving that which is starved for affection.
Nourish is about giving – to others and to self.
Nourish is about what is beneficial. Nourish is about that which satisfies and sustains.
Nourish leans into the present rather than the future.
Nourish goes deep. Nourish takes time. Nourish pours in.
Nourish is intentional.
Nourish cares, tends, nurtures, cultivates, and infuses.
Nourish is concerned more about the roots that people can’t see than about the branches and leaves that can be seen.
Nourishment will result in growth, no doubt…but will enjoy the process of growth and change.
This is my desire for 2017. To nourish my body. To nourish my family. To nourish my relationships. To nourish my spiritual being. To nourish my blog and my readership. To nourish everything that makes me me.