Do you have your one word for 2016? I love the idea of having one word to focus on for the year instead of a long list of resolutions that end up being too hard to keep. Last year my word was gratitude.
For 2016, my one word is one that God put on my heart a couple of months ago. It is one that I do not like – that’s how I know God put it there. It makes me uncomfortable. It is going to stretch me and challenge me. But that’s what I love about it. If I can master it (or have any success whatsoever with it), I will love how it will change my heart.
Here it is:
Probably not a word most people would pick. Maybe you’re even wondering, what does she mean by inconvenience? My one word is inconvenience because I want to check myself every time I feel inconvenienced. You see, the truth is, I hate being inconvenienced. I’m sure we all do to some extent, but for me, it’s a truth that was hard to accept about myself when confronted with it. I started by asking myself and God, what keeps me from loving others well? What keeps me from developing relationships with others? What prevents me from being the loving mother and wife I long to be? The answer…
Inconvenience and my heart towards it rather. So this year when I experience an inconvenience, whatever it may be, especially when it comes to dealing with people and relationships, I’m going to check myself. What is coming out of me now that I’m facing this inconvenience? Is it selfishness and out of selfishness rudeness? Anger? Resentment? If that’s where I’m headed, let me stop myself in my tracks. Let me switch gears. Let me change my perspective. Let me welcome inconvenience. Let gentleness, patience, love, kindness (um, hello fruits of the spirit!) come out of me instead.
Inconvenience. Yes. That’s my word for this year.
I keep writing it and saying it like the more I do it, the easier it will be for me to conquer. A little like memorizing it in hopes that I will somehow absorb it so it sort of just happens – kind of like sleeping on your notes in college the night before a test hoping the material would just magically transfer to your brain overnight (anyone else do that or just me?). It would be easy if it worked that way wouldn’t it? But there I go, not wanting to be inconvenienced by my one word… Oh Lord, I’m going to need help with this one.)
This word is a big deal for me because, confession, I do not naturally have a servant’s heart. Sure I’m called to serve (we all are), and I will serve and do serve in many ways and do find much joy in serving…but again, being honest with myself, and you, it’s all as long as it’s convenient for me. Make it inconvenient… and well… there goes any chance of my having a servant’s heart. I will probably grumble, complain, grow a bad attitude, and basically become the person I don’t want to be.
When I reflect on my own parenting, I realize that the times I viewed whatever was happening with my children as an inconvenience, instead of as an opportunity to serve them as a loving, gentle mother, are the times anger got a hold of me and negativity and frustration flourished. Really those times were perfect opportunities for me to embrace the inconvenience and love them better instead.
For instance, a nap gone wrong or missed because the baby is sick or teething or whatever the reason (such as my life this past week). It’s inconvenient… for me. Now please don’t judge me, I’m confessing here and being real. It’s my selfishness seeping out. Nap time is my time to rest too, my time to manage the household, take care of the never ending to do list, take away my time, and whew am I tempted to let all of those negative emotions flow from inconvenience. But when I look at a situation I quickly label as “inconvenient” from another perspective, I can shift it and have a chance to mother my child well, to love on my child well, and watch the blessings flow. (And just to clarify again, I do not view my children as inconveniences; children are not inconveniences.)
Here’s another example. When your one year old still isn’t sleeping through the night (in fact is still waking up 2-4 times a night) and here you are, up all night, going back to bed yet again at 4am just as your husband is walking out the door to leave for 2 weeks of training. You eventually fall back asleep only to be woken up at 5:30am by his phone call saying that he left his bag by the front door and you need to wake the kids up and bring him his bag right now before he leaves… Um, hello inconvenience. Little sleep, wake up the kids way earlier than normal (including the one you spent all night getting to sleep), and drive to your husband’s work to bring him his bag. There were two paths I could have taken depending on how I viewed the event. If I viewed it as an inconvenience, I could chew him out on the phone, shame him, complain, grumble, etc.. OR I could view the inconvenience as an opportunity to love and serve my husband and show that through my words and attitude. Let me just say it was more of the first rather than the second that came out of me. Not a shining moment as a wife. Thank goodness for grace.
When my husband’s job in the Army calls for a PCS, the hunt for housing, the paperwork, the setting up and cancelling of utilities, finding new doctors and babysitters, and so on, that is completely inconvenient. If I choose to, I can let those troubles build up resentment in my heart, and, confession, I have allowed that to happen, and the result isn’t pretty.
When I receive a phone call in the middle of me time and I’m working and I don’t really have time for to chat, that’s inconvenient. I have a habit of then sounding short and irritated on the phone. That is what stands in the way of bettering my relationships.
I could go on and on of course. The end result of how I view life events as inconveniences typically brings out selfishness, rudeness, and sours relationships. Nothing good comes out of a situation where I feel inconvenienced. I want to change that. I need to change that because I am not loving others well.
I’m sure you have your own examples. We are all inconvenienced in small every day ways and in large scale life trials. A deployment, a move, an illness, a career change, too many commitments, a neighbor who needs a ride, long lines and waits, plans falling through, you fill in your own blank.
If we choose to, we can see life as a series of inconveniences and focus on the trouble it brings to our lives and become selfish, frustrated, angry people. Or, we can choose to embrace inconveniences, and be Jesus to others, pouring out love and the fruits of the spirit in our relationships. Which way do you approach an inconvenience?
In 2016, I’m focusing on anything that I instinctively label as an inconvenience and intentionally look for the opportunity to joyfully embrace it so I can love others well. When an inconvenience comes my way, as it surely will, I’m going to choose to have an expectant heart and expect God to help me face that inconvenience by filling me with the Holy Spirit so those fruits can come forth instead of those selfish traits I need to rid myself of. I can’t wait to share about my one word with you as I go through this year.
Tell me, what’s your one word for 2016? Share it in the comments so we can encourage each other!
And let’s be real, if you’ve read this whole post you know I’m a mess here, so I’m looking for some encouragement for myself, can you share a time when you chose to love even when it was inconvenient for you? Or a time when someone else loved or served you when it could have been inconvenient for them? I’d love to hear your stories!