At the beginning of January, I shared with you the One Word I felt I was supposed to focus on this year. Here’s the summary I wrote then:
VALIDATE: This year, I want to focus more attention on acknowledging others. I want to take the time to extend overflowing acceptance and appreciation. I want others to feel seen. I want others to feel heard.
I’ve participated in picking a single word focus for three years now. It’s always interesting to me how the decisions I make and the lessons I learn throughout the year constantly circle back to my word.
This morning, it dawned on me how often I try to pick and choose where and who to love and validate. It’s almost as if I pray. “Lord i want to love more and validate others more.” Then, the opportunity comes up and it doesn’t necessarily excite me or capture my heart and I find myself wanting the Lord to give me another choice. “Um, Lord, can this be multiple choice? Is there something behind curtain number 2 or 3 I could pick instead?” Okay, so I don’t say that to God…but that’s how my heart will quietly react to the choice in front of me.
I have to make two decisions this week that are not really ones I would choose. If it was completely up to me and (my all too often) selfish heart, I’d prefer to be given different options. And then, that’s when it happens, my one word flashes across my brain and I know what to do. My decision becomes bigger than me and my selfish preferences.
As I was writing this post, I thought about that familiar joke of the drowning man, a sole survivor of a shipwreck, who cried out to God to be saved. Then two different boats come by and ask the man if he needs help. The man declines because he is waiting on God to answer his prayer and to come down and save him. The man eventually drowns and when he arrives in heaven he asks the Almighty, ” Why did you let me die? Why didn’t you answer my prayers?” and God replies, “Dummy, I sent you two boats!”
There are times this year I’ve treated loving and validating others the same way. The Lord puts the opportunity right in front of my face and I choose to flounder around in the waters of selfishness instead.
I love what Bob Goff said at the Storyline Conference I went to last October: Loving and serving others isn’t a grand event, it’s being helpful and just calling it Tuesday.
Lord, help me to understand this more fully. Teach me to live it.
Helping others to feel seen isn’t a big production and it’s certainly not a multiple choice test either. Because the answer is simple: All of the Above.