• Dana L. Butler

In which I take a deep breath and share… {#oneword2015}

Tears burn the backs of my eyes as I open my WordPress “Create New Post” page this afternoon. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s what happens to me more often than not when words are ready to be given voice. They surface in the form of these tears that make it up, but not all the way out. Go figure.

Stan’s helping a sweet family from our church move into their new home, my kiddos are napping soundly, and I am breathing in the quiet.

Pretty sure the days on end of no afternoon naps in our first few weeks here are catching up with my littles. They are exhausted, and Isaac, at least, has been absolutely at the end of himself. Adios, coping skillz.

Yikes.

But I’m rambling.

What I really want to share with you here is my one word for 2015.

Twenty fifteen?! What?! How did this happen?

Yet it did, and my goodness, I am grateful.

If I’m honest, 2014 was one of the more difficult years of my life. I wrote through it all somehow, albeit it often vaguely — through the loss and the hurt, the grieving and the waiting — and I pray I wrote through the more painful days in such a way as to cover and not dishonor, to extend and receive mercy, while simultaneously offering my friends who journey with me via my words an authentic glimpse into my torn heart.

My 2014 word was freedom, and when that word chose me, I had very little understanding that freedom would come at such a high price.

Please bear with me as I write vaguely yet again — and suffice it to say that last year’s journey into higher freedom took me oh, so much deeper with Jesus than I’d anticipated, primarily because the process of staring my fears in the face in order to move through them toward freedom was much more — well, fearful — than I’d expected.

I was forced to press into His heart in ways I’d never had to before.

But He is faithful, y’all. So much more than faithful.

And we are here now. We step forward into 2015 finally in our lovely, long awaited Colorado, and while my heart has been slow to catch up with the fact that this is a new, different season, I think I’m beginning to stick my toes in the water of embracing said newness. (Ahem. And apparently mixing expressions and metaphors is a thing for me now. Or maybe it always has been. Yeah. But anyway — onward.)

None of us will ever reach the end of learning to move forward through fear, and freedom will be an ongoing journey for me, as it is for all of us who walk with Jesus. But I am so thankful that my geographical and spiritual boundary lines have fallen now in places where walking out this freedom will be a little safer. Will feel a little — yup — freer.

 *****

The last several days have been full — both our time, and our hearts. We’ve spent hours with dear friends, both old and new-ish, and there’re these common threads that’ve run through nearly every conversation, to the point where Stan and I have at times utterly given up on maintaining eye contact with our friends and just stared in shock at each other, jaws agape.

Over and over again, the themes are wide open spaces, boundary lines in pleasant places, and the extravagance of the freedom accomplished for us by Christ’s work on the cross.

And I am undone by God’s sweetness to us, His repeated reminding of our hearts that we. are. home. And we are free, both in this new geographical space, and in Him. In the Kingdom.

Also? There’s another theme that’s run through my last several days, and y’all? I am so frightened by it. But it’s the best kind of fear.

Our friends here, and our church family? They so genuinely desire my heart, you guys. And my voice. A number of them read my blog, I’ve learned (eeep!), which makes all this pouring out of my soul feel even more vulnerable for reasons I can explain in a future post.  (But which I also absolutely love, and if you’re reading this and you’re a part of the LVC, I just adore you and you are so welcome here.)

But here’s the thing: in all these recent conversations, people are asking about my WORD. For 2015.

This word that feels nearly more vulnerable than I can handle. That brings tears to my eyes and makes my stomach do flips with this gut-level knowing that it’s Jesus who’s highlighted it to me.

Oh, the irony in their asking. Because with every ask, there’s this prodding inside me, “Share it, Dana. Do your word. Open yourself. Be seen. Be heard. Be known.”

So, grimacing inside and often outside too, I share it. I choose to let them see into my soul — those I dearly love, and those I’m just getting to know.

And in light of the wide open spaces and increased heart-safety of this new season for us, for me… and in light of last year’s journey into this expanded freedom… and despite the fact that sharing this word makes me feel afraid and exposed and just generally yikes… I’ll tell you here:

Unfold. 

The word is unfold.

As in Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, hail Thee as the sun above — the line from Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee that thoroughly wrecks me every time I sing it, and has for years.

Also, as in this quote from Rilke that both sweetly convicts and utterly dismantles me:

I want to unfold. Let no place inside me hold itself closed. For where I am closed, I am false.

Unfold is what I’m free to do in 2015, because Jesus and I walked hand-in-hand together through 2014, into this previously uncharted-by-me level of authenticity.

Unfold is about trust — both in my God, and in those in whose midst He’s placed me now.

Unfold is about unzipping my soul, being seen, heard, known.

Unfold is about willingly exposing vulnerable places — insights, opinions, experiences, weakness, failures — but not without the covering of my Love.

Unfold is about taking new risks. About jumping and flying and failing and falling into mercy. About getting up and trying again.

But mostly? Unfold is about worship. It’s about my heart’s cry, “May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering!” May He receive it in the opening of my soul. In my authenticity. In the way I love and lead and sing and speak. May He receive it in my ruthless, unbridled trust, in my moving forward in quiet, worship-filled obedience even in the midst of fear, because He is outrageously, beautifully worthy of it.

Let nothing inside me hold itself closed. I want to unfold.

*****

Several weeks ago, a dear friend shared this song on Facebook, and it’s since become the soundtrack for my life. I want to share it with you here, because it speaks so profoundly to what Jesus has forged in me in recent days. I’d love for you to take a minute with this (literally – it’s short.). {And if you’re reading via email, would you consider clicking over to listen?}


Final thought: I’m reminded of this 5 Minute Friday post that I wrote back in July. It’s a super short one, but it gives imagery and further explanation to the vulnerability of this journey of unfolding. I’d love for you to read it if you’re not already worn out by all my words tonight.

ALSO (and I promise this is my final thought, for real, y’all) — if you’ve chosen a word to mark your 2015, I’d absolutely love to hear. Share it with me in the comments? And if you’ve blogged about it (which is by no means a requirement!), would you leave a link? I’d love to read.

Blessings to you, my friends, and happy 2015.

Your companionship here has been, and continues to be, an invaluable gift to my soul. I love you guys.

{Sharing this post with my friends in Kelli’s community.}

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