I have read multiple blog posts lately about the one word that people have chosen to guide their 2014. I like this idea better than making a list of specific goals for the new year. While I believe that making yearly goals and starting with one word to characterize your year are very similar in purpose, I like how beginning with one word sets up a framework, more of the big picture from which to work, for the year. That works better for who I am because I naturally tend toward getting sucked into the details of life and forgetting, or not even knowing in the first place, what the big picture is; why the details are important, and what the smaller ideas all point toward.
I liked the idea, but when I thought about 2014 and all I was hoping for in it, I just couldn’t come up with one word. All my thoughts came in phrases. So, I decided to throw the whole idea out.
Just kidding. I didn’t. And while you may laugh at the idea, there are those times when I throw something out because I can’t get it to “fit” just right within certain parameters, even when there’s plenty of freedom in which to move and flex the parameters. But I’m learning that more of life than not doesn’t fit all nice and neat into the little categories and the “black and whiteness” that I want it to fit. But I digress. Back to my phrase for 2014 …
I find that it can be hard to settle in at times … to different roles I play, ongoing tasks that are just part of life, and to where I live (both geographically as well the specific house we currently view as part of our “home”), among other things. And by “settling in,” I am referring to the mindset and actions through which I embrace all of those different things, get comfortable in my own skin in each of them, become content in particular areas in which I’ve been discontent, and put down roots where needed.
I realize this sounds fairly vague, but bear with me as I continue to think it all through myself. Here’s an example. When we first moved to Colorado back when I was finishing up graduate school, we decided that we were just moving there for the summer. Well, things changed and we ended up staying for five years. Even during those years, we thought we might be moving on from Colorado at some point, but didn’t know when. As I result, there were areas in which I didn’t settle in. I never full decorated any of the 7 houses/cabins (yes, 7!) we lived in during those years. I probably wasn’t as intentional in some relationships as I should have been and wanted to be, because I wasn’t sure when were were leaving. In some senses, I never mentally settled into the mindset that “this is home” until we neared the end of those 5 years – and by that point, we knew we were going to move to Thailand.
Although it’s hard to have the “this is home” mindset (key to settling in, in my opinion) when you’re somewhere for an undetermined amount of time, I know it has to be possible. I’ve seen it happen. When we lived in CO, we got to know a family who was living in Colorado Springs for 1 year due to a temporary transfer with the husband’s company. I watched them jump right in to life in the Springs as they got involved in a church, in community goings-ons, and in relationships. It was incredibly inspiring to watch them seemingly not hold back merely because they were just going to be there for one year. And you know what? They ended up extending their stay for one additional year and then, when given the opportunity to stay indefinitely with the company office in the Springs, they took it and are living there indefinitely. But what if they hadn’t settled in that first year because they knew they were leaving? I think they would have missed out in multiple ways. But they didn’t and I learned a lot from watching them.
Although an international move has its own specific set of nuances, many of the principles of the need to “settle in” remain. I don’t know how long we’ll be in Thailand, but what does it look like for us to settle in here?
And beyond that specific example, what does it look like to better settle into the role of being a mom and wife in ways I have not previously? Into being an adult in areas where I’ve resisted and wanted to remain a child? Into other areas of life where I, for whatever reasons, have not settled in?
I’m not sure. But I’m hoping and praying that 2014 will be characterized by such things. Here’s to the new year … and to settling in.
When you think of the new year, what words or phrases (or long, run-on sentences ;)) do you want to guide and characterize your 2014?