Days before I ran across this new challenge (can you tell I'm an overachiever...), God seemed to be preparing me with a single word.
I even wrote a post about it a day or so before I heard about #ONEWORD365, which is a challenge to throw out New Year's resolutions to focus on just one word for the whole year.
I didn't want to just choose the word joy, because something about the word "enjoy" steals away the passivity and pushes you straight into action the way standing under a cold waterfall on a hot day startles you alive. Or the way a sunbeam heats the floor under bare feet or a baby's chubby newskin is the softest thing you've ever touched. Enjoy cannot escape being in the moment.
And that is what God has been whispering to me on the days when I feel tired, overwhelmed, insignificant and bored.
I am currently reading All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, and I just read a scene that is completely arresting. Marie-Laure is a blind teenaged girl during World War II and has been holed up in her uncle's house in an unfamiliar city in France that is occupied by the Germans. She and her relatives are free to go out to run errands, but she has not been able to explore. One day a woman she lives with decides to take Marie Laure outside of the city to the ocean, which she has never experienced before and didn't even know was there.
"The ocean! Right in front of her! So close all this time. It sucks and booms and splashes and rumbles; it shifts and dilates and falls over itself; the labyrinth of Saint-Malo has opened onto a portal of sound larger than anything she has ever experienced...She did not imagine it properly; she did not comprehend the scale" (p. 231).
How many times is God offering me blessings and glimpses of His grace and goodness that are right in front of me, but I am too distracted or even scared to notice?
The word enjoy means to "take delight or pleasure in." I love the synonyms: cherish, relish, delight, admire, rejoice in, luxuriate in, revel in, appreciate, adore, savor, indulge in and treasure.
Jesus has been nudging me, inviting me to enjoy.
To cherish Him,
relish my marriage,
delight in my children,
admire where I live,
rejoice in writing,
luxuriate in simple moments,
revel in nature,
appreciate daily tasks,
indulge in exercising, and
God is calling me to live more in the moment. It is so easy for me to think that I could be doing something more useful or world-changing than what I am doing at any given minute and I miss out on all the ways God is trying to alert me to His presence in the here and now. But if I am actively enjoying, then it is hard to minimize the kingdom value of anything I am doing, regardless of how simple it may seem.
I need to believe that God delights in seeing me enjoy what He has given me.
Here are some of my initial brainstorming questions that I may write about in the coming days and months:
How do I know I'm really enjoying something or someone?
How do I enjoy God?
Do I believe God enjoys me?
Can people tell I am enjoying them? How?
Which verses speak to this word?
Which books can I read to urge me to enjoy more?
What prevents me from enjoying?
It's going to be difficult for me as someone who loves control to allow God to work this word into my life in organic ways. Maybe it's the teacher in me, but I love structure, plans and goals. But part of truly enjoying something or someone is not forcing yourself to do something that feels unnatural. So I'm allowing this word to be more of a open-handed prayer as I wait for God to show me what He wants to show me instead of trying to manipulate Him (ha!) into doing what I think He should do.
"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full" (John 16:24).
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