Descending: Reflections on the 2012 Word

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Two more days and we’ll bid 2012 farewell. While I’m ready for a new year, I’ve learned that it’s best not to rush headlong into it without a backward glance at the year we’re leaving. Besides, it’s just good etiquette. I hope you’ve had a few quiet moments to reflect on 2012. I’ve stolen  away long enough to also reflect on my word for this year:

Descending.

I chose this word for 2012 because I have an ongoing problem of living life like it’s all about me and mine. Most days my thoughts, actions, and motivations center around what works best for me. Even when it seems like I’m doing for others, it’s really mostly about serving my best interest, making me look good, or assuaging my guilt. If you’ve moved beyond this, high five yourself. Because you’re the only one I’ve ever met.

In 2012, I decided that I would attempt to learn what it means to descend into hard places – physically and spiritually. Descending into those hard places meant that I would have to let go of the me thing. Really let it go, not just throw out a catchphrase when the occasion presented itself. For instance: don’t we all love the phrase, “It’s not about me?” That’s because these four little words are way easier to say than to live out 24 hours of every day. Fortunately, on a Saturday morning in January, I was able to hear Pam Cope speak at an event, which was exactly what I needed to begin the year. Pam’s son, Jantsen, died suddenly when he was in high school, which was, for her, a forced descent into a very dark place. As a result of spending some terrifying time there, her heart was crushed and then pieced back together to beat for those who live in the very darkest places: child slaves on Ghana’s Lake Volta. There are a few times when I know it’s time to sit up straight and pay attention because God is speaking. I heard Him that morning through the voice of someone who has embraced descent.

“We can choose,” Pam said through tears, “to live for something bigger than ourselves, or we can choose to live for ourselves. We can feast at this lavish table of pouring out ourselves for others and watch what God will do, or we can be content to live for ourselves and peck at the chicken scratch on the ground.” The crowded room was completely silent.

Now, the chicken scratch analogy may not work for you, but it worked for me. Something clicked, and I realized that I was absolutely not content to peck at the chicken scratch. Not for one more minute. I was tired of working terribly hard ensure my own comfort, happiness, contentment and success. I was tired of being completely wrapped up in me and mine. It was time to let it go and see what happened.

I’m not going to recap my year, but you can read the descending posts here. I will tell you that 2012 has been an adventure. God has taken me places I would have never had the courage to go into on my own. Not just physical places, but spiritual and emotional places as well. It is most certainly a journey of continuing descent. I’m still learning how to do it because it goes against every fiber of my human nature. It’s an endless staircase to the bottom and I’ll never get there. There will be many days when I will turn and start running toward the top again, but most of the time I love the feeling of falling downward. It reminds me that ultimately, and eternally, it’s not about me. And I don’t miss the chicken scratch one bit.

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