• Dana L. Butler

One Word for 2013? I Think Yes.

Hola, my friends!  Happy New Year to you all! I think with all of the gazillions of New-Year-related blog posts over the last week, I’ve just kept quiet.  Didn’t want to add to the sense of pressure that a new year can sometimes bring.  Pressure to make and keep resolutions, pressure to start over in some arena of life.  Truly, there is SO MUCH pulling and tugging on our brains and our hearts at this time of year and it could easily begin to feel a bit overwhelming. HOWEVER… There is one New-Year-related bandwagon that has really intrigued me as I’ve heard about it over the last couple of years.  Intrigued me, and yet, I’ve never jumped on it.  Till right now, that is.  And oh, I’m jumping. It’s this concept of selecting one single word to mark your year.  Selecting it out of a place of prayer over what God wants to emphasize to you, or to focus on within you, during the coming year. I’ve been interested over the last couple of years to hear other people’s choices of words.  Things like: Prayer. Listen. Mercy. Praise. Ask. Alive. Faith. Follow. Grace. Freedom. Each word with so much more depth and meaning behind it than is visible at a glance.  Meaning that flows out of the secret place of that person’s walk with the Lord. And so, this year, given the season that I’ve been in with the Lord recently, I really, really have wanted to choose a word.  And several have been floating around in my head, but I knew that none of them were right.  They actually were all varying aspects of the word that FINALLY occurred to me this morning, just as I was lying in bed trying to wake up. Ready for it? Presence. The state of existing within a certain place.  AND… Here are some quotes from David Benner’s book Sacred Companions in which he very aptly describes the “presence” that I’m seeking to develop:

  1. “The presence of each person is unique, just as the atmosphere of each person’s home is unique.”

  2. “Presence involves a sharing of something of my deepest self.”

  3. “Stillness, safety, and love are preconditions for… presence.”

  4. “Presence begins with attentiveness.  This demands that I focus on the other person and his or her experience.”

  5. “It usually means setting aside my own interests and preoccupations.  It also demands that I stop analyzing what I am hearing or rehearsing how I will respond.  And as I have noted, it also involves resisting the impulse to solve problems or fix things that appear broken.”

  6. “Genuine presence involves being genuinely myself.  I can be present for another person only when I dare to be present to myself.  And as noted, I can be genuinely present to myself only when I can be genuinely present to God.”

  7. “Presence to another person is sharing this gift of my true-self-in-Christ.”

  8. “It is impossible to offer genuine presence to others if I am simply an assortment of roles.  Often we wear our personas like masks, each for the correct occasion.  The performance is so well-rehearsed that we fail to be aware that it is a performance.  But it is.”

  9. “Being genuinely present to another demands that I be a real person.  It demands integrity of character – a correspondence between my inner world and outward appearance.  While none of us accomplishes this in any final state, spiritual friends are people committed to achieving this integrity.  Becoming their true self-in-Christ forms a fundamental part of their journey of Christian spirituality.  Presence does not demand perfection.  But it does require that I be on a transformational journey and committed to its continuation.”

There it is.  My one word for 2013.   And there are 3 different facets of presence that I feel the Lord wants me focusing on this year:

  1. God’s presence to me.  His tender, intimate, undistracted attention to every detail of my life and my heart.  His attentive nearness to me and His desire to speak and encounter my heart in every single moment of every single day.

  2. Being present to God.  Present to His presence.  Being “tuned in” to His nearness and His voice and His heart.  Being aware of His nearness to me in the midst of the day-to-day.  This entails being present and engaged in THIS moment, not wishing years or days or even seconds away, but being zoned in on the RIGHT-NOW-ness of my life and God’s activity in the midst of it.

  3. Offering the gift of true presence, as described above, to those He puts before me.  My husband and son.  My extended family when I’m able to talk with them. My church family.  My sweet friends.  My blog readers. 🙂  The clerk at the grocery store.  My bank teller.  My hair dresser.  You get my drift. True presence.  Zoning in on the heart, the story, of the one that God puts before me in any given moment.

All of this is so much easier said than done and I’m so thankful for grace.  I’m also thankful that as I lean into Jesus, He will empower me for growth in all of this, that I don’t have to do it in my own strength.  

He is more than enough to fill in my gaps, and His strength is made perfect in all of my weak places as I surrender them to Him.

Annnnnnd, there you have it.  

I’m so looking forward to tacking this word up in various places around my house.  A reminder that what He’s extending to me, and what He’s asking of me, and what will lead others straight to His heart?  Is genuine presence.

Do you feel inclined to ask the Lord to give you one word to mark your 2013?  I’d love to hear!  

Happy New Year, friends!  May it be blessed with a deepened knowledge of God’s nearness to you and His commitment to your heart.

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