This will be my 6th year with a “one word” new years resolution. Rather than choosing something to “work on” I pray about the themes I see God weaving into my life. My word is less of a goal, and more of a treasure hunt through God’s action in my life.
Just over 365 days ago I read the words of Jesus as recorded in the book of Luke and was catalyzed toward my 2018 word. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Heart. Soul. Strength. Mind. Though this wasn’t a new concept, I realized that somewhere along the way I began to ascribe more worthiness to the heart, soul, and mind when it came to knowing and relating to God. Things that nurture my heart, soul, and mind are easier for me and more of a habit. Loving God with all my strength had been crowded out and left behind.
To be strong is physical. My physical side has never been strong. I ran cross country in high school, to be a part of a team, despite finishing every race dead last. At the end of the season, I was awarded a t-shirt with the phrase “I’m not lost, I’m blazing my own trail” because of how often I got so far behind the pack that I made a wrong turn and lost them entirely. Loving God with the physical body he knit together held all kinds of hurdles for me.
Disappointment and misplaced blame of my physical frame after years of infertility and a miscarriage have led to me neglecting my physical body or to obsessing over it. I realized that the very things I want to avoid (to keep the peace) are the things I must address. I could no longer ignore how my physicality, my strength, is a part of the greatest commandment.
With this in mind, I chose the word whole as my “one word” for 2018. I wanted to de-compartmentalize and find out what it was like to live wholeheartedly. I had the desire for all the areas of my life to work in concert.
“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”- Jeremiah 24:7
In 2018 my whole life shifted, twice.
So many things are different from how 2018 began. We came to a new church as learners while my husband finishes out a three-year church-based ministry training, and left behind a church we had attended for eight years. We loved our old church and our community was rich, so while we embraced our new community it was easy to long for where we were already known. My days were feeling empty and quiet as our foster baby had moved home several months prior, and I was still only working part-time.
In the spring I shifted into a fun and busy season working at a wedding event rental business with amazing co-workers who prayed together constantly, and knew my desire was to bring more kids home. Our plan was to pursue a domestic infant adoption, so my paychecks went into our savings to that end. Then our plans changed again in the fall and our household now includes a 4 and 5-year-old. For how long? No one knows. With them in our house, my whole life changed again, trading adult conversations for dance parties and conversations about poop.
Wholeness and wellness collided
In January I signed up for the Wellness Revelation Book Study online. I have tried all kinds of gimmicky programs and various eating plans (keto anyone?), but always felt defeated by the underlying messages that only led me to shame, no matter if it worked or not. This was different. My mind was renewed through the study, and a year later I still think differently about my body. The focus was more on who God says I am, and how it relates to how I eat, sleep, and move instead of an endless list of “to-do’s”. I found that I am a body neglector. Water, sleep, and sustenance can often be forgotten. Any distraction can draw my attention from caring for my physical frame.
Through the class we had a weekly zoom call to debrief, led by the lovely Emily Thomas. We were encouraged to move with joy because God made our bodies, and the work out videos (confession, I only did about half of them) were filled with encouragement rather than shame. The goal to worship God with our bodies today as they are helped right my perspective. I am continuing to work on not ignoring or feeling defeated by my body just because it isn’t how culture has informed me that it should be.
A whole bunch of “NO”s
I’m getting used to saying, “Thanks, but I can’t have that.” Part of caring for my physical frame was finding out how my body needs to be fed. I had previously gone off of all kinds of things, but always gave up when it seemed to be an inconvenience. I thought it was loving to not cause extra stress or planning for what I need. Then I got tested for food sensitivities, and am now trying to live free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and a few other random things. For my body to be well and serve God for years it is worth the effort.
Loving God with my whole self is a process. Not just about how “useful” I am, or how “ dedicated” but for me to have freedom in places where fear and pride held me captive. The goodness in loving God wholly is that He makes us truly alive and as we were created to be, which enables us to love Him with every part of ourselves.
Holly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail, and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.