I finally found a New Year’s Resolution I can actually stick with. No diets, no lists, no promises to be broken…rather, just a focus on one word and how it can help me be more attentive to God. Somehow (wink)…this word brought me right back to Disney, my most favorite place in the world.
I re-read my New Year’s post from last year and was reminded of my “oneword” for 2017, “abide.” Margaret Feinburg beautifully explained the meaning behind the idea of “oneword” on this blog. I was struck by just how fitting the word, “abide” was for me in 2017. I reflected on what “abide” has meant to me as a Christian woman deeply seeking closer connection to my Heavenly Father. This word has been instrumental in opening the eyes of my heart to the Holy Spirit’s still small voice in ways I had yet to experience. It has been humbling, enlightening, loving and also hard at times…there has been a lot of pruning involved in “abiding” close to my Vine.
It was also interesting reading my writing about all of the intricacies of grape growing as it related to “abiding”. For a recap:
According to the Old Farmer’s Alamanac, grape vines, when tended to and pruned most properly, can produce good fruit for over 30 years. One must buy the very best kind of grapes, ones that are “certified virus free” vigorous one year old plants, from a reputable nursery. The grapes must be planted in early spring and only after their roots have been soaked for 2-3 hours in water, planted alongside a trellis so that they can be trained to grow upwards to prevent disease. The soil must be deep, well-drained and loose with good air circulation. Vines must be spaced apart 6-16 inches depending on the variety of grape being planted. Each grape-vine needs a 12 x 12 hole filled with 4 inches of topsoil before said vine can be placed into the earth, broken roots torn away, more soil placed on top and a plentiful water shower provided. And…after all of that…the farmer should not “allow” the plant to produce fruit for at least 2-3 years! The vine must strengthen its root system before it can shoulder the weight of grapes of the very best quality. And while waiting for the promised harvest to come to fruition? The farmer must remove 90% of the previous year’s growth, the more one prunes, the better the chance of a bountiful harvest.
Oh my word. Though I have surely grown due to God’s 2017 pruning as I have focused on “abiding”, I just cannot fathom Him removing 90% of this past year’s growth in order to best prepare me for who he wants me to become? Are you kidding me? OUCH!
Become. That is my “oneword” for 2018.
Become, as defined by Google, is a verb that means to begin to be, to grow to be, or to turn into. It also can mean to come into being. The King James Version of the Bible Dictionary page defines become in this way; to pass from one state to another; to enter into some state or condition by a change from another state or condition, or by assuming or receiving new properties or qualities, additional matter, or a new character; as, a cion becomes a tree.
The cion (better known as scion) is the sweet little new good fruit bud placed just beneath the farmer’s pruning cut, meant to improve the quality of the original plant as it grafts into the previously established stalk. Though the process takes about a year for a scion to grow and another for its newly cultivated fruit to be produced, the gardener loses only one year of production, instead of three or more years if the gardener had to replace the entire plant.
I will admit that I often felt as though I was “losing production” in 2017. I felt that forward movement in my person-hood was stalled while God sheared off old fruitless branches. God’s deep pruning left me feeling absolutely naked at times, experiencing the type of vulnerable dreams I had only heard other people talk about – those dreams where people find themselves in public – naked. Total vulnerability right there. Like – all the “branches” I had were ripped off without warning. This pruning felt purposeful in the cutting away of habits I had embodied for years. I was forced (yes, I resisted with kicking and screaming the whole way) to realize my need for His good grafting, replacing my ways with His ways. Those sweet little baby scions of God’s good fruit have not yet been fully grafted. They are still very fragile and need cultivation, but are bursting to become who they are meant to be in me.
I hold hope that these baby scions will strengthen and become the best parts of me. The very idea of holding hope is how my sweet trip to Disney with my family came to mind in relation to my “oneword” for 2018. Disney was the place where I was able to truly let go in 2017…and letting go is becoming…
I remember approaching the entrance to Avatar, Flight of Passage, with my boys. The line was not so long as we had arranged our entire trip around when we could obtain the coveted fast pass for this new attraction. We entered the pre-loading dock of the flight simulation so that our own personal Avatar could be carefully crafted. Now knowing our Avatar identity, we were permitted into the dark room where the ride was to commence. Motorcycle like seats sat in a row and we were instructed to climb on and strap in. We then donned our new eyes. The lights dimmed. The screen bragged all kinds of graphic 3D color excellence as I felt the banshee beneath me begin to inhale and exhale.
In that moment, I had to choose whether or not I would become a part of this altered reality. I had to let go. I had to leave fear, doubt and control, mostly, as I allowed myself to soar. As I hung on for dear life to that banshee’s neck, I felt myself truly let go for the first time in a long time. I was also keenly aware that I had made the conscious choice to let go. I did not want to miss the thrill of the ride. I wanted to become a part of the experience. I wanted to live it.
I immersed myself in the ride. The sights, the smells, the tastes…and even down to the acknowledgement that the in and out movement beneath my being was meant to simulate breathing. I became a part of that ride and was therefore able to “come into being,” to “change from one state to another.” I changed from a guilt-ridden fear-stricken woman to a woman of freedom, release and sheer delight. I was an Avatar on a banshee for those few minutes. I was free.
I believe that is just how God wants to me to become in Him. A new person with a new identity. Free. Without fear. Able to let go and enjoy the view while I soar on wings like eagles, while I run without growing weary, while I walk without becoming faint…
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 43:28-31
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7
God breathed life into man so that we could become. He changed us from lumps of clay to living beings. He wants us to let go of control, of fear and allow those little scions of truth to become us. He wants us to reach out and touch someone in truth and love, despite previous shackles of gripping fear of rejection. He created us to become new in Him and to trust Him as the Creator who knows best. He wants us to become 100% reliant on His ability to provide for our every need. He wants our confidence in Him to allow us to soar. And while we are soaring – He wants us to fully enjoy all of the beauty that is His creation – the land, the sea, our children, our families, our dearest friends. We can only fully live when we decide to let our own ways go and become who He has made us to be.