Did you have a word for 2017? You know, something to use throughout the year to bring you back to your focus and keep you on track? In 2016, I had a word, but I couldn’t even tell you what it was. So, it seems fitting that for 2017, God gave me the word “intentional.” The first thing I decided to do with that word was to be sure I used it enough and remembered it enough to not actually forget the word itself when it came time to reflect on how 2017 went. (FYI, you’re gonna see it a lot here, too.)
And just like that, here I am, already reflecting. I started 2017 with clear-cut “intentions.”. After all, I sat down like I was supposed to, reflected, prayed, and came up with a good word, for the year and I made it a point NOT to have any New Year’s resolutions. I had a list (kind of) of what I wanted to accomplish. And I mean, if all I had to do was be intentional, what could go wrong? Intentionality was just about making things happen, right?
For some things, it actually was that simple. It still took some discipline and sacrifice, but when it came to being intentional about having a daily quiet time (I am on track to finish reading the whole Bible in one year) hitting some fitness goals, and being more present in relationships, all I had to do was get up earlier and check the boxes. “It’s going to be a good year,” I thought to myself.
But when I was reminded early in the year (as in January) of my past and betrayals that I thought I had forgiven and should have been forgotten, the word intentional took on a whole new meaning. I had to intentionally dig into pain I had buried. I had to reopen wounds that had not completely healed. I had to have intentional love and compassion for the person who cannot let the past go, as well as for the person who initiated and spread false stories to begin with. I had to be intentional about feeling the emotions all over again, and they were just as raw as the first time. I had to be intentional about trying to see why people would still talk about something that was never their business, how they could see that any of it is still relevant today, and how love has anything to do with any of it. Intentional is the ONLY way I was able to see the situation and the people the way God sees them. Intentional is the only way I was able to see that I have not suffered any more than Jesus did. Intentional is the only way I was able to have compassion and forgive fully and move on to have a healed relationship with all involved.
It’s interesting how I thought that was my big victory for the year. I think God would probably have called it “cute.” Because you see, he remembered a prayer I had prayed about a year before, handing my son back over to Him and saying, “Whatever it takes, Lord, do it. Just make him yours.” Do you have any idea what runs through the mind of a mama when she tells God, she’s ready for “whatever it takes?” Everything. Every possible thing ran through my mind. But God is so much better at being God than I am. He remembered that prayer. In 2017, He allowed me front row access to witness miracle after miracle as my boy went from happy and in love to heartbroken, desperate and in complete darkness and hopelessness, to seeking help from God while hanging on to the faith of others because he had none of his own, to trusting God and accepting Jesus as his Savior, and even spurring this mama on with encouragement and Scripture. I have never been more intentional in my whole life as I was in 2017. I intentionally sought counsel. I intentionally got on my face and begged God to give my son someone to talk to, to give my son hope, to give him just the teeniest bit of faith. God is so gracious and merciful. He was also intentional. He allowed me to be part of the miracles.
I have had a multitude of other opportunities to be intentional in 2017, which have helped me grow and have given me so much reason for celebration and gratitude. But because of that prayer and the blessings that came from letting go of battles that weren’t mine to begin with, I have become more intentional about letting go in every area. I’ve got a long way to go, but God is already providing me opportunities to get out of His way and let Him work by allowing me to watch what He’s doing in the areas where I’m praying. I love that by being intentional this past year, He has allowed me to see His intentionality in my life.
Was 2017 a tough year? You bet it was. Am I celebrating 2017? I sure am. I am celebrating the struggles, through which I had to be intentional about moving forward; I am celebrating letting go of my shame story that kept me from wanting to forgive and heal. I am celebrating second chances. I am celebrating the miracles – all of them – and being anxiously intentional about recognizing them. There are so many. I am celebrating the times when I’ve missed the mark (sometimes intentionally) because those are areas of opportunity to be intentional going forward. And I’m celebrating the silver linings because they wouldn’t even be visible without me being intentional.
You will always find what you are looking for. If you’re looking for things to go wrong, that’s what you will see. If you are looking for the good in every situation, you’ll see it. Either way, it takes intentionality. Intentional may have been a word for 2017, but from now on, I plan to see the world with eyes that are always looking for the miracle, the reason behind the pain, the blessing of forgiveness, the opportunity to let go, the need for belonging, the love of a Savior, and all else there is to be grateful for.